‘Time is running out’: Quinnipiac collapses to Manhattan 72-70 on buzzer beater


Peyton McKenzie

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team has now blown four double-digit leads since the start of 2023.

Colin Kennedy, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – What started out as a joyous day in M&T Bank Arena celebrating Quinnipiac men’s basketball’s four seniors, ended in disaster following another double-digit collapse by the Bobcats. Led by graduate student guard Ant Nelson’s 21 points and buzzer-beater floater, Manhattan erased a 21-point deficit in the second half to win 72-70 Sunday afternoon. 

“We just need to have the mindset that doesn’t worry about the scoreboard, doesn’t worry about circumstances, but just plays in the moment,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “Time is running out.” 

The Bobcats certainly had the right mindset coming off their senior day celebration, jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead. The starting lineup featured all four players graduating in the spring, redshirt senior guard Matt Balanc, redshirt senior guard Savion Lewis, graduate student guard Tyrese Williams and graduate student forward Ike Nweke. 

The senior day celebration was turned up a notch thanks to some superb three-point shooting from the Bobcats in the opening minutes. Williams let it fly with two early triples, and Balanc added to the early onslaught with a three of his own. 

Once the seniors had their time to shine, junior guard Luis Kortright made his impact felt immediately. Kortright was orchestrating a high-paced transition offense, with two consecutive transition buckets to junior forward Paul Otieno and junior guard Dezi Jones. Thanks to some stellar playmaking from Kortright, Quinnipiac jumped out to a 29-10 lead and were running the Jaspers off the court. 

“I thought we were great in the first half, really proud of the way we were battling,” Dunleavy said. “Our older guys came out and really set the tone for us.” 

The tide started to shift with just under a minute to go in the first half. A pair of Bobcats’ turnovers led to a pair of Manhattan buckets that cut the halftime deficit to 14. Despite shooting 7-for-16 from behind the arc, there was a feeling in the air that the Jaspers were far from out of the game. 

“We can’t expect for 40 minutes to be able to do the same things we were able to do,” Dunleavy said. “We gotta be able to adjust and adapt a little bit to how the game changes.” 

The Jaspers certainly adapted in the locker room as it came out with a fire lit underneath them. Manhattan displayed some impressive on-ball pressure that frustrated Quinnipiac shooters, forcing last-second shots to avoid the violation. The defensive pressure allowed Manhattan to get some easy transition buckets, and in the blink of an eye, the lead was cut to 12. 

To say the wheels fell off for the Bobcats would be an understatement once Nelson took over. What Nelson did to Quinnipiac in the final 10 minutes would better be described as a head-on collision, except Nelson was an 18-wheeler and the Bobcats were a Mini Cooper. 

Freshman guard Raziel Hayun was another key component of the Jaspers’ comeback. Hayun hit three triples in the later stages of the second half, the third giving Manhattan its first lead of the day. 

“Unfortunately, Ant Nelson definitely causes you to come off of shooters because of the pressure he puts on you,” Dunleavy said. 

It wasn’t from a lack of effort for the Bobcats, as minutes turned into seconds, Jones and Nweke answered buckets from Manhattan to tie the game with 13.9 seconds remaining. 

Unfortunately for Quinnipiac, Nelson had the ball in his hands when it mattered most. He came off a high screen which allowed him to get off an open floater from the elbow to beat the buzzer and the Bobcats. 

Quinnipiac, who have now blown a double-digit lead for the fourth time since the turn of the calendar, will look to rebound from another tough loss as the Bobcats travel to Fairfield on March 2 at 7:30 p.m.