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It is an adage that the game basketball is about making runs. Seton turned the formula upside down against host Marist Tuesday night. The Sting stopped the RedHawks dead in their tracks.
Seton held Marist scoreless for the game’s opening 9:30 and used spectacular individual performances from senior stars Mark Weems Jr. and Alex Foster to post a 62-41 nonconference victory.
“For us, everything starts with defense and that’s our mindset when we come into every game,” said Foster, a 6-7 Purdue recruit who posted 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Foster scored eight points and Weems Jr. added four point as Seton (17-9) ran out to a 12-0 lead after the first quarter. Marist has many high-powered weapons of its own, and they naturally made a run. Weems Jr. helped shut it down.
The senior guard scored 15 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to power the Sting. Marist star senior guard L.J. McIntosh finally broke through when he nailed a 19-footer from the right wing with 6:30 remaining in the half. It momentarily ignited the RedHawks, who scored 20 points in the final six and half minutes of the quarter.
McIntosh’s steal and length-of-the-floor drive pulled the RedHawks within 25-20 at the break. His dazzling drive and reverse layup at the start of the third quarter brought Marist to the threshold, turning the seemingly one-sided game into a one-possession game.
Weems Jr. took charge. He scored eight points in the third quarter, including five points during a crucial 14-4 Seton run that restored its double-digit advantage. He added five assists and four steals.
“The guys on the team do a great job of looking for me, and the coaches have worked with me a lot in making plays, either off the dribble or at the basket,” Weems Jr. said.
Weems Jr. and Foster combined for 11 fourth-quarter points to turn the game into a rout.
Marist coach Gene Nolan attributed his team’s offensive struggles to a withering combination of Seton’s aggressive pressure and his own team’s struggle to execute. “You have to give Seton a lot of credit,” Nolan said. “They really got into us defensively at the start, and when we did get good looks, we didn’t hit the shots.”
Seton’s offensive rebounding prowess also underlined its dominance. Nine of the Sting’s 20 third-quarter points originated from putbacks or offensive rebounds. “We got out of position in our [defensive] rotations because we had to help so much on the ball,” Nolan said. “Defensively, there’s no answer for an offensive rebound.”
Foster punctuated the victory with a thunderous dunk for his 20th point. “We struggled a little bit ourselves offensively when they started to make that run at us, but we got our composure back and again went back to our defense,” he said.
McIntosh scored 19 points to lead the RedHawks. No other Marist player had more than Lexus Williams’ seven points. McIntosh’s two baskets constituted Marist’s only field goals of the fourth quarter.
With the start of its Class 2A regional opener a week ago, Seton wanted to make a statement. “We’re just trying to get that run going and be ready for the state playoffs,” Foster said.