Marist earns first bid to NCAA Tournament

Updated: March 9, 2004, 1:00 AM ET
Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Stephanie Del Preore scored 30 points Sunday to lead Marist to a 76-74 victory over Canisius for the school's first berth in the women's NCAA Tournament.

Maureen Magarity added 18 points and Del Preore had 16 rebounds for the Red Foxes (20-10) in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game. Jenel Stevens scored 24 for Canisius (19-11).

Canisius overcame a 13-point second-half deficit. Stevens scored on a baseline drive to cut Marist's lead to 73-72 with 54 seconds left to cap a 12-4 run. With six seconds to go, Red Foxes guard Nina Vecchio missed one of two free throws to put Marist ahead 76-74.

Canisius' last chance to tie ended when Becky Zak's 12-foot running jumper fell short and into Del Preore's hands at the buzzer.

Both schools were making their first appearance in the MAAC tournament final.

The win capped a strong season for the Red Foxes who had gone 1-6 in MAAC tournament play before this year. Del Preore was honored as the tournament's most valuable player.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press