Quinnipiac climbs back from 14-point deficit, downs Marist on Tuesday


Daniel Passapera

Quinnipiac men’s basketball improves to 16-6 overall and 7-4 in MAAC play with the win.

Zack Hochberg, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team battled back from a 14-point first half deficit to beat Marist 72-66 on Tuesday night.

After blowing a 17-point lead on Sunday to Iona, the Bobcats were sluggish out of the gates, quickly falling behind by double digits in the first eight minutes. 

Quinnipiac had issues closing out on shooters, especially when those shooters got on-ball screens. It also struggled with rebounding on the defensive end, allowing the Red Foxes to score four of their first 18 points on second-chances. 

“We had a plan, when we executed our plan, they still made some shots because they’re good players,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “We had some mishaps in coverage, so it was hard to tell what we were doing. We were going under some shooters, we were getting disconnected from some good players.” 

On the other side of the ball, the Bobcats offense looked nothing like the one that had helped Quinnipiac to a 6-1 record in January.

The hosts’ were just 3-13 from the field as Marist sprinted out to a 19-8 advantage at the under-12 media timeout. 

“As much as it was negative about us early on, it was very positive about Marist,” Dunleavy said. “I wouldn’t want to take anything away from them, I was very impressed with how they approached it.”

Dunleavy mixed and matched on the defensive end for the next few minutes, switching between man and zone defense, which helped slow down the Marist attack for the time being.

Marist eventually figured out how to poke holes in the Bobcat defense, running the offense through redshirt senior center Patrick Gardner.

Gardner, who led the Red Foxes with 17 points on 7-16 shooting, used his ability to shoot from distance to draw out the Bobcats’ big men, allowing smaller wings and guards to attack the paint. 

Every time Quinnipiac’s offense started to get hot, its defense would disappear and vice versa. However, the Bobcats finally started to put it together in the closing minutes of the half, finishing on a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to just four at the break, including a ridiculous one-legged three as the shot clock expired from junior guard Dezi Jones.

The Bobcats carried the momentum from the first half into the opening minutes of the second, taking their first lead of the game after redshirt senior guard Matt Balanc went on a 5-0 scoring run by himself. 

Unlike the first half, the Bobcats were able to break through Marist’s hard on-ball screens, hedging the ball and creating turnovers. 

“We played tougher,” Jones said, “Don’t get hit by the screen, play harder, just simple things like that. We didn’t have that much intensity in the first half, so we had to make up for it.”

Marist attacked the glass in the first half, but in the second, it was junior forward Tymu Chenery who ripped down an offensive rebound before putting it back in for an electric and-one. 

As the two teams went back-and-forth, Quinnipiac continued to rely on Balanc as the game wore on, and he delivered. The Maryland native hit a momentum-shifting contested three from the wing with just under four minutes remaining to pull his team back within one possesion.  

With time ticking away and the hosts up three, the two squads locked in on defense. The Red Foxes were able to force Quinnipiac into a shot clock violation, and the Bobcats responded by forcing a heavily-contested three-point attempt that hit nothing but air. 

Balanc, who finished with a team-high 18 points, once again came through for the Bobcats, connecting on a tough fadeaway from the charity stripe to extend the lead to five with under a minute to play. 

Three Marist turnovers, two of which an errant pass and the other a charge, clinched the 72-66 Bobcat victory. 

“I was proud of our resiliency and our ability to bounce back,” Dunleavy said. 

The win moves the Bobcats to 7-4 in conference play, and well in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the MAAC as the regular season closes in on its final month.

Quinnipiac will be back in action on Feb. 3 when it hosts Fairfield at 7 p.m. on ESPNU