Quinnipiac men’s basketball continues to impress, wins fourth straight game


Jack Spiegel

Junior guard Dezi Jones recorded 14 points and three steals on Tuesday’s win over Dartmouth.

Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

HAMDEN, Conn – The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team has been a pleasant surprise across the college basketball world after starting its season undefeated. So, it was no surprise that the Bobcats, led by junior guard Dezi Jones, continued their strong out-of-conference schedule with an emphatic 81-72 win over Dartmouth on Tuesday. 

Graduate transfer forward Ike Nweke continued his otherworldly start to his Quinnipiac career. The former Columbia Lion showcased his dominance in the paint, nabbing 11 rebounds and added on with a team-high 18 points. 

“It feels awesome,” Nweke said. “This is the first time in my career actually winning four games … something special for the program. It’s something we take pride in.”

After starting off fairly slow, the Bobcats flipped a switch after a media timeout, pulling off a 21-0 run to silence any offense Dartmouth was throwing at them. The bigger forward-heavy lineup of Nweke, junior transfer Paul Otieno and redshirt junior J.J. Riggins was too much for the far-shorter Big Green defense. 

“Our forwards were dominant,” head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “Inside, with the ball, on the offensive glass … They work really hard.”

And that was not just expressed from the coaching staff. The players also feel the same way about the front court. 

“(Nweke) is a beast,” Jones added. “Working the post, rebounds, he can do it all down there.”

The first half went by in a blur, and though Dartmouth got several much-needed baskets from sophomore forward Cade Haskins and freshman forward Jackson Munro, Quinnipiac was able to keep the lead. 

How did they keep it? Well, a 20-second span during which Otieno made a layup, went back on defense to grab a steal and then slammed it down on the other end was a game changer. 

“Being able to go into battle and knowing someone is going to be just as physical as you,” Nweke said. “Knowing that Paul is going to get the rebound … that’s chemistry that we’ve built since June.”

The Big Green were able to pull a bit closer at the horn, but the Bobcats headed to the locker room up 43-32. It was the third time out of four games that Quinnipiac was able to head into the intermission with the lead

One glaring red flag for the Bobcats early on this year has been the free throw shooting up and down the entire lineup. Struggles the team showed against URI and CCSU were seemingly halted today, as Quinnipiac only missed six from the stripe all night. They were better, but not fully where Dunleavy wants to be. 

“When you look at our box score, it’s the most glaring thing that stands out,” Dunleavy said. “We have good free throw shooters, the numbers will even out.”

Other than a freakishly talented dunk by redshirt senior Matt Balanc, the start of the second belonged to Dartmouth. Baskets by Haskins and sophomore guard Ryan Cornish pulled the visitors to within single-digits. After the first media timeout, Dunleavy’s squad was able to turn it around. 

That is until Cornish took over. The Maryland native scored eight of his 13 points in a three minute span, cutting the Bobcats’ lead to just a single point. 

Both teams kept exchanging baskets until 1:47 left in regulation, when Jones recorded his third steal of the night and an ensuing layup to seemingly silence a Dartmouth comeback.   

“When it’s come to closing time, I think we brought out some of our best,” Dunleavy said. “Over the course of the game, we saw glimpses of who we want to be as a team.”

Munro drained a three with under a minute to go, but the closing out defense showed up and Quinnipiac was able to hold onto the win. 

The game was back-and-forth all night, but it was essentially done for after a stepback jumper by junior guard Luis Kortright pushed the Bobcats’ lead to five and their win streak to four. 

“Luis is a pure basketball player,” Dunleavy said. “He reads the game … we trust him to make plays at the end of the game.”

The Bobcats, who have quickly become strong contenders within the MAAC, now have a two-day break before welcoming Division III Albertus Magnus on Friday at 4 p.m. This will be the team’s final game before heading up to Quebec for the 2022 Northern Classic from Nov. 25-27.