NCAA Women's Tournament: 3 keys to a Marist victory over Michigan State
Not only are the Marist Red Foxes no strangers to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament, they also have an impressive track record in the Big Dance for a mid-major program.
Marist is making its eighth consecutive appearance in the tournament, having advanced beyond the first round four times during that span, including winning its opener each of the past two seasons. The Red Foxes, the 12th seed in the Bridgeport, Conn., region, and fifth-seeded Michigan State will play at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in College Park, Md.
Here are three keys for Marist in its bid to advance to the round of 32 for a third-straight year:
1. Keep the tempo fast. The Red Foxes are smaller and speedier than Michigan State. If Marist can run the floor, it could potentially wear down the Spartans' post players and force Michigan State, which generally uses just a seven-player rotation, to reluctantly rely on its bench.
2. Hold their own on the boards. It would be a tall order to suggest that the Red Foxes must win the rebounding battle. Michigan State holds a significant size advantage over Marist, and the Spartans are ranked 18th nationally in rebound margin. The Red Foxes, however, need to at least keep it close in this department.
3. Marist's Leanne Ockenden must slow down Klarissa Bell. This is the matchup to watch. Ockenden, the MAAC's Defensive Player of the Year, likely will guard Bell, Michigan State's leading scorer. Aside from trying to keep Bell's point total down, Ockenden's knack for forcing turnovers will be needed to buy the Red Foxes some extra possessions against a Spartans team that plays strong defense itself.