Quinnipiac reaches 100 points, pulls out tough victory at Stonehill


Cameron Levasseur

Redshirt senior guard Matt Balanc and graduate transfer forward Ike Nweke combined for 31 points during Quinnipiac’s Thursday victory.

Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

Quinnipiac men’s basketball has been competing at the Division I level since the 1998-99 season. The Stonehill Skyhawks have been competing at this same level for only two games. That divide in experience was huge as the 2-0 Bobcats won 102-95 on Thursday night. 

On paper, it seemed like a mismatch between the two programs, but Stonehill head coach Chris Kraus spoke about the competitiveness of his roster and their willingness to not shy away from anyone. 

“These guys have always aspired to be at this level,” Kraus said at the NEC Preseason Media Day on Oct. 19. “We got calls from schools and we wanted to play … Whether it’s UConn or Sacred Heart or Quinnipiac … we’re going to compete.”

And compete they did. The Skyhawks made the Bobcats look brutally mediocre on the defensive side of the floor, racking up 95 points and making the bettors that took the under (o/u 142) look silly. 

The teams leaned heavily on the three-point shot to kick the game off. In the first five minutes, there were a combined five made shots from beyond the arc and at the end of the first half, both the Bobcats and Skyhawks had 17 combined threes. 

The first half was full of streaks on both sides. The visiting Bobcats were able to pull ahead after a strong 13-0 run, but were quickly stagnant on the defensive side, allowing the Skyhawks to close the gap. 

Just like Monday’s game against Rhode Island, the paint presence by Quinnipiac was ridiculous. A huge part of this win was due to the 39-30 advantage in total rebounds. Led by graduate transfer forward Ike Nweke (six rebounds), the Bobcats were able to establish strong recognition on the glass. 

At its conclusion, the first half was a track meet. The Bobcats went into the locker room with a slim, three point lead. Although the team had a 52-49 advantage, it felt like a disappointing first half for Quinnipiac against a team making their home debut as a Division I opponent. 

Senior guard Matt Balanc had a bounce-back performance on Thursday, recording a team-high 20 points, one of seven Bobcats to reach the double-digit threshold. After only recording a single basket against Rhode Island, he was able to find his groove, especially from deep, hitting from three long-range shots. 

Aside from Balanc, nine other Quinnipiac players scored in the winning effort, an early-season high. 

The second half was a sluggish start for Quinnipiac, as it allowed Stonehill graduate student forward Max Zegarowski to get to the free throw line multiple times early on. Overall, Zegarowski was the Skyhawks’ brightest star, dropping a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds.

Stonehill was lethal from the stripe, going 17-for-19 on free throws. For the Bobcats, their free throw struggles continued as the team missed a total of seven on the night. Free throws have been one of the very few errors plaguing this team after two games, but with most early-season mistakes, it will likely be ironed out by conference play. 

On the injury front, junior forward Paul Otieno was not spotted throughout the entire second half after starting the game. While no clear reason was shown on the television broadcast, it will be interesting to note Otieno’s absence with a game coming up in three days. 

These same Bobcats, who are out to their hottest start to a season since 2010, will continue their road trip with a Sunday matinee against in-state rival CCSU at 1 p.m.