Strong second half helps Mount St. Mary’s knock off Quinnipiac as Balanc reaches 1000


Casey Wiederhold

Junior guard Luis Kortright scored a season-high 17 points in Sunday’s loss to Mount St. Mary’s.

Zack Hochberg, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team lost its first home game since December 2022 Sunday afternoon, falling to Mount St. Mary’s 79-75. 

The Bobcats jumped out to an early 11-2 lead, led by guard Matt Balanc. The redshirt senior racked up five early points, including a tough contested three that forced the Mountaineers to call their first timeout of the contest.

Quinnipiac played its best  in the first ten minutes, eventually widening its lead to 18-4, its largest of the game, while holding Mount St. Mary’s to just 22.2% shooting from the floor. 

The Mountaineers eventually made their adjustments, sending more bodies into the paint to attack the Bobcats.

The visitors specifically went at graduate student guard Tyrese Williams first, who got caught in a mismatch a couple of different times, and the Mountaineers took advantage, for a 7-0 run to bring them within one with 8:12 to go in the first.

While the Mountaineers gave the Bobcats fits in the post, senior guard Jalen Benjamin made it tough near the perimeter, putting up 14 first-half points. 

The Bobcats have had trouble all-season covering elite guards, like Benjamin, and today was no different. 

“They can make tough shots near the basket, far from the basket, midrange, with a guy like Benjamin, he can hurt you at all three levels so it takes all five guys to guard him as opposed to playing one-on-one,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. 

Quinnipiac’s best response was to switch between 2-3 and 2-1-2 zones, which provided a stop and ultimately a bucket on the other end as the Bobcats closed out the half with a 36-30 lead, largely due to their phenomenal start. 

During the half, Quinnipiac honored the women’s tennis team, who won the 2022 MAAC championship last spring.


The Mountaineers kept pushing out of halftime, sprinting out to a 7-0 run to take a 37-36 lead, their first of the game. 

Just like the first half, Mount St. Mary’s went to the paint, targeting a Quinnipiac team that stayed in man-to-man coverage, switching everything when it wasn’t working. Junior guard Dezi Jones, a smaller defender standing at 5 feet 10 inches tall, was left on an island multiple times,  guarding players almost a foot taller than him, such as Sophomore forward Jedy Cordilia, who scored a large majority of his points in the paint. 

The Bobcats went away from the zone, which was working, heading back to the man defense with two bigs.

The zone defense was working with one big in the game, whether it was graduate student forward Ike Nweke or junior forward Paul Otieno, nevertheless, Mount St. Mary’s had a glaring 26-16 advantage in the paint when they took their largest lead of the game. 

“I think some of our smaller lineups were struggling to defend the post,” Dunleavy said. “So the zone helped us in that way, just gives them a different look … take them out of their rhythm.”

The Bobcats finally woke up midway through the second, as junior guard Tymu Chenery capped off a 9-0 run with a three off a turnover, tying the game at 65 and bringing the crowd to their feet. 

Quinnipiac struggled to connect from beyond the arc, hitting just one of its last nine, but made efforts to get to the rim, keeping the Bobcats in the game as the Mountaineers held a slim one-point lead with 3:51 remaining. 

Balanc got a floater to fall to pull Quinnipiac back within one, but more importantly giving the Maryland native his 1,000th career point.

The redshirt senior became the 19th player in Quinnipiac’s Division I history to score 1,000 points, and 45th player in program history to achieve the feat. 

“He’s brought consistency, toughness, leadership and all the intangibles that you want as a coach,” Dunleavy said. “He’s a guy that has led us in scoring in the past, but also has the character and the competitive toughness to be defined by winning and doing things the right way. I’m really proud of him and glad we have him in our program.”

Cordilia, who registered 22 points of his own, put Mount St. Mary’s ahead for good. 

Benjamin, who led the Mountaineers with 23, got himself into foul trouble midway through the half, before eventually fouling out with 1:23 to go and his team up five. 

The Bobcats couldn’t mount a comeback attempt, suffering one of their worst losses of the season.

“We came into today and did not play well for about 30 minutes of the game,” Dunleavy said. “Credit Mount St. Mary’s. Those guys did a great job rebounding the ball, great physicality and toughness, and a well-coached team that earned a win today.”

Despite the loss, Quinnipiac remains the No. 4 seed in the MAAC. Siena dropped to No. 3 after a loss to Niagara, which allowed Rider to jump up to the top spot. 

Quinnipiac will be back in action on Feb. 10, when it travels to Upstate New York to play Niagara at 7 p.m.