No. 3 Quinnipiac knocked out of MAAC Tournament with deflating loss to No. 11 Marist


Peyton McKenzie

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team lost to Marist for just the first time since Feb. 20, 2022.

Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – For the second-straight season, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team faced off against the Marist Red Foxes in the MAAC Tournament. However, this year’s rendition came to an abrupt halt as the Bobcats lost 72-59 Thursday night to end Quinnipiac’s 20-win season Thursday night.

“(I) tip my hat to Quinnipiac, they’re really talented, (a) really good team,” Marist head coach John Dunne said. “We had a sense of urgency and a sense of preparation that I haven’t seen all year.”

By the time the first media timeout came around, it was already starting to feel like a defensive slugfest. After five minutes of play, both sides combined for just three total field goals and a slim 5-2 Marist lead.

Red Foxes’ redshirt senior forward Patrick Gardner, who was named to the 2023 All-MAAC Second Team, feasted during the game. After a 23-point outburst against Manhattan in the opening round of the tournament, Gardner worked his way to 22 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in Thursday’s effort.

The Bobcats got into foul trouble early, as multiple trips to the line for freshman guard Isaiah Brickner and senior forward Tyler Saint-Furcy continued to extend the Red Foxes’ lead. When Quinnipiac redshirt senior guard Matt Balanc hit a pair of triples, Marist would instantly respond on the other end.

“We had a plan for Quinnipiac, obviously,” Saint-Furcy said. “We just came together.”

The Red Foxes began to find their groove with the ball to close the first half. Brickner had a team-high 10 first-half points, to give Marist a 35-27 lead heading into halftime.

Coming out to start the second half, Ike Nweke had enough of Gardner in the paint. The graduate student forward racked up five quick points, emphasized by a huge slam, to help cut into the deficit.

The deficit cutting then stopped right in its tracks. An 8-0 run by the Red Foxes, highlighted by a wide-open three from Brickner, ballooned Marist’s lead all the way to 15 with just over 14 minutes left in regulation.

“I think we have a balance in our league,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “It’s probably more about matchups, to be honest … That’s what our league is, I think that’s what makes it fun.”

Around 10 minutes remained in the half and something just clicked for Marist on the defensive side. The Bobcats stopped passing the ball to the right players and couldn’t grab a rebound to save their lives. At one point, the Red Foxes’ lead got all the way up to 20.

“(They) shot the shit out of the ball tonight,” graduate student guard Tyrese Williams said. “There’s only so much you can do … kudos to them.”

The trio of Gardner, Brickner and Saint-Furcy combined for 51 total points in the matchup. The Bobcats’ entire squad only surpassed that mark by eight. That, along with Marist’s sheer will to win the game, was just too much for Quinnipiac to overcome.

After some brief baskets that lacked meaning, the Red Foxes left the building with yet another upset win and the Bobcats left with disappointment.

“There’s a psychological component to the sport,” Dunleavy said. “We know what this league is … Marist, over the last eight games, has been a different team … I thought our guys were ready mentally.”

Another sore spot for Quinnipiac were the eight turnovers. Junior guard Dezi Jones, who led the team with 3.8 assists per game, was on the losing end of four giveaways, something the Bobcats needed to limit if they wanted any chance to win. 

“We just played hard, it was the same game plan,” Dunne said. “Our urgency was there, it really was … now we’re moving on.”

The Red Foxes will now move onto the MAAC Semifinals to play the No. 10 Saint Peter’s Peacocks tomorrow at 8:30 p.m., the first time a 10 and 11 seed have both advanced to the semifinal round.

Thursday’s loss now closes what was a mostly-successful season for the Bobcats, winning 20 games for the first time in almost a decade. With four players likely leaving the program, along with only one freshman rostered for next season, this will be yet another interesting offseason for Dunleavy’s squad – so much so that Williams spoke directly to those interested in joining the program.

“If you’re not all in, don’t come … it’s not going to work out for you,” Williams said. “Being put in those positions to thrive, those are the best situations.”