Quinnipiac drops third-straight conference game after second-half explosion from Siena


Daniel Passapera

Quinnipiac goes to 0-3 in conference play to start the season.

Connor Wilson, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – Playing in its final game of 2022, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team lost to the Siena Saints 83-76 Friday, falling to 0-3 in MAAC play on the season after a promising 9-2 non-conference slate.

“Credit Siena for being the best versions of themselves,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “It was a tough pill to swallow.”

The Bobcats were led by graduate student forward Ike Nweke, who led the team with 21 points and seven rebounds. Nweke’s performance was much needed by the Bobcats as they were without redshirt junior forward JJ Riggins, who was out with a left knee injury.

“He plays the four and even sometimes the five,” Dunleavy said about Nweke. “He’s going to continue to learn how to play both positions, but it’s nice to have a guy that can get you 21 points and rebound the ball.”

Three other Bobcats joined Nweke in double figures, as junior guards Dezi Jones (15) and Luis Kortright (11) along with graduate student guard Tyrese Williams (11) helped fuel a balanced scoring attack. Jones kept Quinnipiac in it late in the second half as he scored eight straight Bobcat points.

Javian McCollum was the story of the game for the Saints, as the sophomore guard went for a game-high 25 points, including some clutch baskets down the stretch. McCollum was a game-time decision with an ankle injury but seemed to be his normal self throughout.

“He stretches you with his range,” Dunleavy said of McCollum. “A lot of times we doubled him with two guys leaving someone open and he makes the right pass. It’s not the first good game he’s had.”

McCollum led a balanced offensive attack for the Saints. Graduate student guard Andrew Platek scored 19 points, all of which came in the second half. Two other Siena players were in double figures as graduate student forward Jackson Stormo went for 14 and freshman guard Michael Eley scored 12, including a monster dunk over Williams.

The Bobcats did a solid job containing McCollum in the first half, leading by four at the break, but the Saints came out of the locker room and outscored Quinnipiac 52-41 in the final 20 minutes.

Siena typically travels well and Friday afternoon in Hamden was no exception. There was a fan bus that came down from Albany and there was plenty of green in the stands. Overall the crowd was one of the best of the season for the Bobcats.

In addition to the larger audience, Bobby Gonzalez, a scout from the Detroit Pistons, was present at the game. The former Manhattan head coach and now-collegiate scout watched the first half, likely with his eyes on McCollum.

Down the stretch with his team trailing by seven, Kortright caught the Siena defense napping and pulled off a monster poster dunk on Stormo. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, that only cut it to a five-point deficit with less than 30 seconds remaining, and the game was all but lost at that point.

It’s a quick turnaround for Quinnipiac as the Bobcats open up 2023 on New Year’s Day at Manhattan at 4 p.m., as they look to avoid falling to 0-4 in conference play.

“We’ve got a short turnaround here before Manhattan and we have to be a lot better with our consistency level and our game plan and our defense,” Dunleavy said.