‘Just one of those nights’: Analyzing men’s basketball’s frustrating loss in Atlantic City


Peyton Mckenzie

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team lost in its MAAC Tournament opener for the third time under head coach Baker Dunleavy.

Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – After a regular season ending and a conference tournament start that unfolded perfectly, it was a golden path to the MAAC Championship for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team, on paper at least. 

But March is known for madness and the No. 3 Bobcats’ trip to Atlantic City on March 9 provided just that. 

“I thought Marist played an incredible game,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said after Quinnipiac’s 75-59 loss to the Red Foxes. “Give credit to our opponent, (a) really well-coached team, a team that came out hungry and aggressive.” 

A heartbreaking 16-point loss to No. 11 Marist ended what was the program’s best statistical season in almost a decade. The 20 regular-season wins, including two against teams that made the NCAA Tournament, did not matter when push came to shove at Jim Whalen Boardwalk Hall. 

Nothing worked all game. Shots wouldn’t fall, passing through screens led to turnovers and the Bobcats had no answers for Marist redshirt senior forward Patrick Gardner. The former Division II star at Saint Michael’s and Nassau Community College stuffed the stat sheet, recording 22 points and nine rebounds en route to the win. 

“New pieces like Patrick Gardner and freshmen that have to develop, so over the last five, six games, they’ve been a really good team,” Dunleavy said. “I really think Marist was the best version of themselves tonight and we can’t say that about ourselves.” 

Despite the seemingly easy path to the finals, Dunleavy knew how hard it was to try and end a team’s season, with Marist giving them all kinds of schematic problems. 

“They put a young team together,” Dunleavy said. “Bringing in a guy like Gardner, playing around a big guy with his skill is probably the main difference in terms of the matchup.” 

The final score, which was a 16-point upset, was even more lopsided on the court. Though the Bobcats had three players score in double figures, the team’s eight turnovers was its Achilles’ heel. Junior guard Dezi Jones had four and struggled in the passing game, as the Red Foxes closed every passing lane for Quinnipiac. 

At the core of it, it was the age-old saying about the lower-seeded teams. The Red Foxes had nothing to lose and just dominated their opponent. So much so that Marist made its way to the title game later that weekend. The Bobcats just happened to be a stepping stone for the revenge tour that Marist was on. 

“They gave it to us on senior night just a few days ago, which probably helped us win tonight,” Marist head coach John Dunne said postgame. “That’s a testament to the character of our guys … We stuck with it.” 

It was also the final collegiate game for graduate student guard Tyrese Williams, who capped off his five seasons in Hamden with just three points on 0-6 shooting from the field. He also hobbled into the postgame press conference in crutches. 

Graduate student guard Tyrese Williams
leaves the Bobcats with 1,173 career points. (Peyton Mckenzie)

“Some nights you have shots (go) in, you have big games and some nights you fall short,” Williams said postgame. “This was just one of those nights and it’s just what it is.” 

Williams and graduate student forward Ike Nweke are the only players guaranteed to be leaving the program. For the two redshirt senior guards (Matt Balanc and Savion Lewis), their decisions were up in the air post-Atlantic City. 

Balanc has since announced his return for a graduate year in 2023, a step in the right direction to start the offseason process. 

As seen in this year’s March Madness bracket, smaller schools are becoming national stories, upsetting Power 5 programs by the dozen. It’s not outlandish to say the Bobcats are that far behind. They just cannot have a repeat of this last postseason.