Red Foxes cruise past Jaspers for 20th straight win

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- On a night that Marist honored its greatest player, her replacement had a career game.

Brandy Gang matched her career high with 19 points and the 24th-ranked Red Foxes routed Manhattan 60-42 on Friday night for their 20th straight victory.

The Red Foxes blew out the Jaspers in front of former star Rachele Fitz, who became the first women's basketball player in school history to have her jersey retired.

"This was a great day for Marist women's basketball to have the first jersey retire," coach Brian Giorgis said. "She not only was the greatest player in Marist history, but the greatest player to play in the MAAC. Even though we lost that type of player we're still OK."

Gang took over for Fitz in the starting lineup this season.

"It's really apropos," Giorgis added. "It's kind of like passing the torch in a sense. Brandy's a different type of player. She epitomizes the new Marist Red Foxes that it is a team effort."

A three-time MAAC player of the year, Fitz finished her career as Marist's all-time scoring (2,447) and rebounding (1,066) leader. She helped lead Marist to its first two NCAA tournament victories as a freshman with the team's incredible run to the regional semifinals. The team had a 116-21 record during her career.

The Red Foxes (24-2, 15-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) scored 22 of the game's first 26 points to take early command and coasted the rest of the way.

Monica Roeder scored 14 points to lead Manhattan (19-7, 11-4).

Marist has the second-longest winning streak in the country, trailing only No. 1 Baylor, which has won 21 straight games. The Red Foxes are just two wins shy of tying the school record of 22 consecutive victories set in the 2007-08 season.

Manhattan is having its own stellar season, winning 11 of its last 13 games -- with the lone losses during that run coming against Marist. Even with Friday's defeat, Manhattan has already set a school record for regular-season wins.

"We're excited and the girls have done great," Manhattan coach Joe Olenowski said. "We've really rebounded nicely off the losses we've had. We've kept a lot of teams under 50 and that's kept us in a lot of basketball. We're 10-2 on the road with both losses coming to nationally ranked teams."

The Jaspers' stingy defense led the country in scoring defense coming into the game, allowing a paltry 49.4 points.

Marist had no problems scoring against Manhattan, almost equaling the Jaspers' average by the end of the first half. Gang's jumper midway through the second half gave Marist 50 points.

The Red Foxes are equally strong on defense, coming into the game tied for fourth in the country by allowing just 50.3 points.

Before the near-sellout crowd had settled in, Marist had forced Manhattan into five turnovers and five missed shots as the Red Foxes jumped out to a 15-3 lead. Gang got the run started with a 3-pointer 10 seconds in. She hit eight of her nine shots in the game.

"I guess it was a confidence booster," she said. "I went out there and didn't think about anything. I feel really confident, we need to stay focused on what our goal is going 18-0 in the MAAC."

Gang's shot was just the start as Kate Oliver's 3 made it a 12-point game less than four minutes later.

The onslaught continued as the Red Foxes extended their advantage to 28-8 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Leanne Ockenden and Erica Allenspach. Marist led 39-16 at the half.

Gang had 14 points by the break.

"We said the key to tonight was that Brandy Gang couldn't have a big game and she had 19," Olenowski said. "She was really a dagger."

Marist extended its lead to as many as 29 points in the second half.