Contributed by QU Athletics
In a year where you’d expect first-year players to struggle the most, sometimes there’s a diamond in the rough.
Today for the Quinnipiac Bobcats, that diamond was freshman guard/forward Tymu Chenery, who scored a career-high 16 points and had a key block in the final minutes of the game to lead his team to a 64-58 win over the University of New Hampshire.
Up by four points with less than a minute remaining, Chenery rose up and rejected a second-chance attempt by junior forward Jayden Martinez. Quinnipiac grabbed the loose ball and regained possession, icing the game.
Chenery was playing with a fire under him as a result of a game-long battle against Martinez.
“We were kinda going at it the whole game,” Chenery said. “He had a little layup on me and he elbowed me, so I kinda took it personal.”
Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy had a lot of praise for his freshman after the game.
“He plays with a fearlessness, a confidence, even in some of the mistakes he makes,” Dunleavy said. “It’s a great quality in a player. I think he’s really a versatile player with great size and athleticism, and he’s got a head on his shoulders.”
Sophomore guard/forward Brendan McGuire led the Bobcats in scoring with 17 points — a career best. Also making his name stand out on the stat sheet was sophomore center Seth Pinkney, who registered five blocks and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
Filling in for former Bobcat Kevin Marfo, who transferred to Texas A&M over the offseason, is no easy feat. Marfo led the entire NCAA in rebounds per game last year, and that talent is now out the door. But Pinkney, a seven-footer, came two blocks away from tying the program record set by Chase Daniels, Donovan Smith and Ousmane Drame.
Despite the career days across the board for the Bobcats, there were plenty of plays that the team would like to have back. This was a game of hot potato, as there were a combined 33 turnovers, 20 of them committed by Quinnipiac.
Dunleavy acknowledged the mistakes but commended his team for hanging on for the win.
“We made a lot of crucial errors that we were able to learn from, but it’s really nice to be able to win a game and teach from it, so I think that’s the case here.”
When asked if the unprecedented offseason may have contributed to the turnovers, Dunleavy jokingly blamed the pandemic.
“Yeah, I’ll just blame COVID. We’ll do that. I like that,” Dunleavy said through a laugh.
On a more serious note, Dunleavy said that the lack of experience among his starters is a likely culprit for the sloppy play.
“It’s the same thing everybody else is going through, and I just think it’s young guys a little sped up,” Dunleavy said. “Even just by year, this is really (sophomore) Savion Lewis’ first year at it in terms of being a full-time starting point guard, and obviously Brendan McGuire was injured a lot of last year and didn’t get a ton of reps. So youth tends to get sped up, and we just gotta work fundamentally to prevent those going forward.”
Chenery said that once the team gets going and puts some games under its belt, the play should clean up.
“That’s definitely not a characteristic of our team, it’s not something we’re gonna keep on doing,” Chenery said. “We’re just happy we’re doing it now in the early stages so that when we get into conference play, we’ll be better at taking care of the ball.”
There should be circles all over the calendar for the Bobcats’ next matchup on Dec. 11, as they take on the Iona Gaels and their legendary new head coach Rick Pitino.
“It’s hard to really describe as a relatively newer head coach the honor and the humility I have in sharing the sideline with someone like Coach Pitino,” Dunleavy said. “I’ve been watching his teams for a long time and studying him as a coach.”