Battle of the Bobcats: Kortright, Quinnipiac improve to 7-0 after win over Montana State


Connor Lawless

Junior guard Luis Kortright notched 13 points, six rebounds and four assists in the Bobcats win.

Zack Hochberg, Staff Writer

While two teams named the Bobcats entered Saturday’s game, only one could come out victorious. This time, it was the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team, who defeated the Montana State Bobcats 70-53 in the Northern Classic Saturday night. 

Quinnipiac was able to jump out to an early 5-0 lead in the first couple of minutes thanks to a running layup from redshirt senior guard Matt Balanc and a step-back three from junior guard Dezi Jones. 

Both teams struggled to knock down shots in the opening minutes, as they combined to go 5/16 from the field heading into the first media timeout. 

Montana State continued to battle for the lead, but Quinnipiac sprinted out and went on a 7-0 run, pushing its lead to eight, the largest of the half. 

Junior forward Paul Otieno continued to be an X-factor for Quinnipiac. The Kilgore Community College transfer was able to pull down two offensive rebounds in the same possession for the Bobcats, which eventually led to a layup for junior guard Luis Kortright. 

Despite shots not falling midway through the first half, Quinnipiac played with good pace, continuously getting quality looks at the rim – they just weren’t going in.

Montana State eventually took advantage of the lackluster shooting performance from Quinnipiac, going on a 7-0 run of its own, trimming the lead to one and forcing Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy to call a timeout. 

When shots don’t fall, it’s easy to get frustrated and start playing sloppily, which is exactly what Quinnipiac did. The Bobcats turned the ball over four times in four minutes, which helped Montana State stay in the game despite being outplayed. 

Kortright struggled from the field tonight, shooting just 5-of-16 from the field, but he made a couple of key plays throughout the second half. A massive, second-half dunk put Quinnipiac up eight after a stretch in which it struggled to increase the lead.

Quinnipiac used the momentum from the Kortright dunk to propel its defensive efforts. The Bobcats from Connecticut forced six turnovers in the second frame, holding Montana State to only two three-point shots made and a sub-par 40% from the field in the second half. 

On the other hand, the Quinnipiac offense was humming, as it got back to knocking down shots and playing cohesive basketball.

However, Montana State didn’t go down without a fight. These Bobcats were able to string together a couple of buckets to cut the deficit to eight with just five minutes remaining in regulation.

But Kortright continued to make big plays, scoring five points before feeding Balanc for a corner three. The huge basket out of a media timeout effectively put the game out of reach. 

Quinnipiac never trailed as it moved to 7-0 for the first time since the 1969-70 season with a chance to tack on another one tomorrow. The victorious Bobcats will square off against Hofstra at 4 p.m. in the final game of the Northern Classic.