Quinnipiac men’s basketball blows 16-point lead against 9-20 Canisius as it goes winless at home in February


Daniel Passapera

Quinnipiac has now lost seven of its last eight games.

Keith Savage, Staff Writer

The Bobcats celebrated Senior Day before Sunday’s game against the Canisius Golden Eagles, but they were not cheering for long after Quinnipiac’s 72-67 lost.

The Bobcats quickly caught fire in the first half and went on a 20-7 run. The offense was grooving with six minutes remaining in the first half. After a few back-and-forth shots by both teams Quinnipiac held a 40-27 lead going into the half.

The man-to-man defense worked well for head coach Baker Dunleavy and forced the Golden Eagle’s to take poor shots. Graduate student forward Jacob Rigoni led the game in scoring with three 3-pointers to go along with his 13 points. This looked like the perfect last home game for Rigoni, graduate student forward Kevin Marfo and walk-on senior guard Brendan Martin.

After an early 3-pointer to start the second half by the Bobcats that extended their lead to 16, the Golden Eagles took it personally and started hitting their shots at a high rate. In four minutes, they cut the deficit from 16 to five, going on an 11-0 run led by senior forward Malik Green who had six points during the run.

Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon changed the defense throughout the game. He made sure Rigoni would not be the reason why his team lost in the second half. Witherspoon switched to a 4-1 zone, but wherever Rigoni went the team communicated and pressed him at the 3-point line. The graduate student did not make a basket in the second half.

Marfo struggled on offense, shooting 1-9 with only six points while leading the team with three turnovers. His backup, sophomore forward JJ Riggins, looked great in the pick-and-roll to start the game and scored six straight points from it in the first half. There would be times where Riggins did not roll after a scream and Dunleavy would scream at him for it. Comparatively, Marfo rarely did pick and rolls which contributed to his poor scoring day.

“Some games we need to, it’s based on strategy,” Dunleavy said about involving Marfo in the pick-and-roll.

The Bobcats bounced back for a short period and brought the lead to 11 with 12:20 remaining in the game. After an isolation jumper by Quinnipiac junior guard/forward Brendan McGuire to bring the lead to eight, one man for the Golden Eagles started taking over.

Senior guard Jordan Henderson scored all of the points on a 10-4 run for Canisius and suddenly, the Bobcats were only up by two with seven minutes remaining. Quinnipiac’s once-amazing defense in the first half was gone but coach Dunleavy decided to stick with basically the same man-to-man defense the entire game.

With 8:08 remaining in the game redshirt junior guard Matt Balanc made a layup for the Bobcats to extend their lead to five. The team did not make another field goal until sophomore guard Dezi Jones made a layup with 31 seconds remaining in the game. The Golden Eagles went on a 14-4 run in that span and were up by five points before the Jones layup.

Sophomore guard/forward Tymu Chenery made a 3-pointer for Quinnipiac with 16 seconds left in the game, leaving the Bobcats down by two. Canisius was in the one-and-one and Quinnipiac fouled Henderson. The senior made both to seal the deal and finished with a career-high 25 points, 17 of them coming from the second half.

The Bobcats blew their double-digit lead and lost 72-67 to the Canisius Golden Eagles. This was the Golden Eagle’s first away win of the season, and they are now 5-13 in MAAC play. Quinnipiac falls to 7-11 in conference play and has now lost seven out of its last eight games.

“All credits to Canisius, it’s one we certainly feel like we let slip,” Dunleavy said.

The Bobcats have two more games before the MAAC tournament against Monmouth and Iona.