Marist Aims To Continue Cinderella Run Against Top-Seeded Tennessee

Red Foxes, Lady Vols To Meet At Noon On ESPN

March 25, 2007

Marist-Tennessee Game Notes
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The Series: First meeting. Marist has never defeated a Southeastern Conference team, bringing an 0-7 mark against the SEC into today.

Today's Top Tidbits: The lowest seed to ever reach an Elite Eight was a 10 (Lamar, 1991). ... Julianne Viani has hit the most three-pointers of anyone in the tournament to date (nine). ... Rachele Fitz is third player in program history to score 500 points in a season, and the first freshman. ... Marist is the first MAAC team (men's or women's) to reach the Sweet 16.

A Lucky 13: The Red Foxes have become just the third 13th seed in the history of the NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament to advance to the Sweet 16. The tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1994 -- the first year there were 13th seeds, since it had expanded from its previous high of 48 teams. That year, Texas A&M reached the Sweet 16. In 2005, Liberty also earned a berth in the regional semifinals. By earning a 13th seed in the Dayton Regional, the Red Foxes have their best seed in their three NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2004, Marist was a 14th seed when it took on third-seeded Oklahoma, falling 58-45. Last season, the Red Foxes were also a 14th seed when they suffered a 75-60 loss to third-seeded Georgia.

Best 13 Ever?: However, neither Texas A&M in 1994 or Liberty in 2005 were able to advance to the Elite Eight, meaning that if the Red Foxes prevail, they will become the first 13th seed to be one of the final eight remaining teams in the NCAA Tournament. In 1994, Texas A&M suffered a 26-point loss to top-seeded Purdue in its regional semifinal contest. In 2005, Liberty fell by 42 points in its regional semifinal game against LSU. The lowest seed to ever reach the Elite Eight was Lamar, which was a 10th seed in 1991.


Dialing Long Distance with Julianne (Part I): Red-shirt sophomore guard Julianne Viani has drained the most three-pointers of anyone so far in this NCAA Tournament with nine. Viani was 6-for-10 from three-point range against Ohio State in the first round and 3-for-4 against Middle Tennessee State in the second round. With 4.5 three-pointers per game, Viani ranks second among all players in the tournament, trailing only Boise State's Nadia Begay, who hit eight in her only game. Led by Viani, Marist 15-for-33 on three-pointers in the tournament.

Dialing Long Distance with Julianne (Part II): Red-shirt sophomore guard Julianne Viani scored a career-high 24 points in Marist's first-round victory against Ohio State. Viani did most of her damage from beyond the arc, draining a career-high six three-pointers in the contest. Viani became the first Red Fox this season to hit at least five three-pointers in a game. The previous single-game high for three-pointers was also held by Viani, who drained four against Liberty on Dec. 29. The last Red Fox to hit five three-pointers in a game was also Viani, who drained exactly that number against Saint Peter's on Jan. 22, 2006. Viani leads the Red Foxes with 42 three-pointers this season. Prior to the Ohio State game, Viani had shot just .284 from beyond the arc this season. In the 2005-06 campaign, Viani set Marist's single-season record for three-point percentage with a mark of .407.

Front and Back (Present): Against Middle Tennessee State, the Marist backcourt (Alisa Kresge, Julianne Viani, Nikki Flores, Courtney Kolesar, Brittany Engle, Shannon Minter and Alexis Waters) combined for 37 points, while the Marist frontcourt (Rachele Fitz, Meg Dahlman, Lynzee Johnson, Sarah Smrdel, Kristin Hein and Mary Alice Duff) combined for 36. Against Ohio State, the backcourt teamed up for 34 points, while the frontcourt tallied 33. As a result, the backcourt has scored 51 percent of the team's points in the tournament, while the backcourt has scored 49 percent. The Marist backcourt has shot .458 (22-for-48) so far in the tournament, while the frontcourt has shot .482 (27-for-56).

Front and Back (Before): The backcourt has recovered quite nicely so far in the NCAA Tournament after a slump in the conference tournament. In their three MAAC Tournament games, the Red Foxes combined to score 190 points. The Marist frontcourt (Rachele Fitz, Meg Dahlman, Lynzee Johnson, Sarah Smrdel, Kristin Hein and Mary Alice Duff) combined for 64 percent (122) of them, while the Marist backcourt (Alisa Kresge, Julianne Viani, Nikki Flores, Courtney Kolesar, Brittany Engle, Shannon Minter and Alexis Waters) combined for 36 percent (68). The Marist frontcourt combined to shoot .513 (40-for-78) in the three tournament games, while the backcourt combined to shoot .268 (19-for-71).

Historic Tournament for the MAAC: Prior to Marist's win over Ohio State on Saturday, the 10 teams which currently comprise the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference had gone 0-21 in NCAA Tournament play. The only win the MAAC had previously earned in the tournament came in 1989, when La Salle defeated the University of Connecticut. This season, the Red Foxes have become the first time in the history of the MAAC -- men or women -- to reach the Sweet 16.

Roaring Twenties: In five straight games, the Red Foxes have had a player score 20 points in a game. On the season, Marist has had 12 games in which a player has scored 20 in a contest, and the Red Foxes are 12-0 in those situations.

Slump? What Slump?: Junior guard Nikki Flores scored a career-high 21 points in Marist's second-round victory over Middle Tennessee State, going 8-for-12 from the field. In the seven games prior to the Middle Tennessee contest, Flores was 7-for-48 from the field.

Rachele's Newest Milestone: Against Middle Tennessee State, freshman forward Rachele Fitz scored her 500th career point. By doing so, Fitz became just the third player in program history (Ursula Winter, 545, 1983-84; Charlene Fields, 516, 1992-93) and first freshman to score 500 in a season.

Coast to Coast with Kresge: In Saturday's win against Ohio State, senior point guard Alisa Kresge played all 40 minutes. It marked the third time this season Kresge every minute of a game, and it was the sixth time in her career that Kresge played at least 40 minutes. She then played 39 minutes against Middle Tennessee State on Monday, meaning she has sat for just one minute in Marist's first two tournament games. Kresge's career high for minutes is 45, as she played every minute of an overtime loss against Siena on Dec. 3, 2004.

Then and Now: In Brian Giorgis' five seasons as head coach, Marist has amassed 107 victories in 153 games. In the five years prior to Giorgis' arrival, the Red Foxes had posted a record of 37-101. Before Giorgis came to Marist, the program's previous 107 victories had come in a span of 291 games.

Smrdel Steps Out -- And Steps Up: Junior forward Sarah Smrdel has shot the ball well from long distance as of late. In the Red Foxes' 75-57 victory over Rider on Feb. 19, Smrdel hit a career-high three three-pointers in three attempts. She has hit nine of her 19 three-point attempts in her last seven games. Prior to this season, Smrdel had hit just one three-pointer in her career, which came in last season's MAAC Tournament semifinal victory over Iona. This season, Smrdel has four games in which she has hit at least two three-pointers in a game. On the season, Smrdel is tied for third on the team with 19 three-pointers made.

Men & Women Keep On Winning: For the second straight year, Marist has set a school record for combined wins of the men's and women's programs. This season, the Marist men and women have both won a total of 54 games (29 for the women, 25 for the men), breaking last year's mark of 42 wins (23 for the women, 19 for the men). This year also marks the first time the men's and women's programs have both won 20 games in the same season. With a combined total of 54 total wins between its men's and women's teams, Marist has broken the best combined win total in MAAC history, previously held by La Salle in the 1988-89 season (26 for the men, 27 for the women). In MAAC games, the Marist men and women combined for a record of 31-5. The 31 combined conference victories is also a MAAC record. The men's and women's programs were also both seeded first in the MAAC Tournament, marking the first time since the 2002-03 season that a school had both the men's and women's top seeds (Manhattan, which won both tourneys).

61 Straight Under 60: The Red Foxes' victory over Middle Tennessee State on March 19 marked the 61st straight win Marist has had when holding a team under 60 points. In every game of its 12-game winning streak earlier this season, the Red Foxes held all of their opponents under 60 points. In doing so, they set a program record. The previous record was eight, which was set in the 1990-91 season. The Red Foxes went 7-1 in that stretch. This season, the Red Foxes are 26-0 when holding the opposition under 60 points, and 3-5 when the opposition scores at least 60.

When Quadruples See Double: The Red Foxes had four double-digit scorers (Nikki Flores, 21; Meg Dahlman, 13; Julianne Viani, 13; Rachele Fitz, 10) in their victory over Middle Tennessee State. It marked the fifth time this season that Marist had four double-digit scorers in a single contest. Marist is 5-0 in those instances this season, with the other three victories coming against Stony Brook on Nov. 10, Iona on Jan. 21, Niagara on Jan. 28 and Saint Peter's on Feb. 2. Overall, the Red Foxes have won nine straight games when having four double-digit scorers.

Hitting at the Line: In their last 14 games, the Red Foxes are 234-for-302 (.775) from the free-throw line. Marist had a season-high percentage of .944 (17-for-18) from the line in its 71-51 victory Manhattan on Feb. 4.

Climbing the Charts: With a career-high five blocked shots against Iona on March 4, red-shirt junior center Meg Dahlman jumped into sole possession of fourth place on Marist's all-time list. Currently with 90 blocks in her career, Dahlman is just five behind Kristin Keller for third on Marist's all-time list. Additionally, Dahlman's total of 47 blocks this season is second best in program history. Dahlman's total includes five she had in her freshman year at Holy Cross, where she played the 2003-04 season before transferring to Marist.

Miss Consistent: Freshman forward Rachele Fitz has 31 double-digit scoring games this season in the Red Foxes' 34 contests. The only three teams to hold Fitz under 10 points this season are Duke (two), Maryland (six) and Loyola (eight).

This Date In Marist History: This is the latest date the Red Foxes have ever played in a season. The previous latest date Marist has ever had a game on is March 20, which came in 2004. On that night, the Red Foxes played in their first NCAA Tournament game, suffering a 58-45 loss to Oklahoma.

Nikki Flores scored a career-high 21 points in Marist's second round victory over Middle Tennessee State.

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