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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘Fools gold’: Quinnipiac staves off comeback attempt, defeats CCSU 74-70

Tripp Menhall
Graduate student guard Savion Lewis dribbles the ball around a CCSU defender on November 10, 2023.

HAMDEN, Conn. – It might’ve been ugly, but the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team held off a late comeback attempt by CCSU to earn its first Division I win of the season. Freshman Rihards Vavers led the charge, with an inspiring performance to fend off the Blue Devils. 

However, for head coach Tom Pecora, his victory dinner isn’t going to taste quite as good. 

“I (have) friends in this business who don’t care how they win, and I’m envious of them,” Pecora said. “They go out, they have a great dinner … But man that food isn’t going to taste that good tonight. Wins like that are fools gold.” 

Both squads started off the game on fire trading triples, with graduate student Matt Balanc tallying two from behind the arc in the opening minutes. Following the opening media timeout, Vavers entered the game, giving the Bobcats an immediate jolt. 

“(Vavers) is a really good player, and sometimes age goes out the window,” Pecora said. “We knew he was an exceptional shooter, but his IQ has been great and his grit and toughness is at a higher level than I thought it would be.” 

The Latvia native entered the game and immediately stuck a three, but wouldn’t stop there. Over the next eight minutes of play Vavers was all over the court, grabbing rebounds, hitting triples while falling into the Blue Devils’ bench and driving in the lane for two-point buckets. He gave the team a complimentary scoring option to Balanc, who piled on 12 first-half points of his own to match Vavers’ 13. 

“I’m not just a shooter,” Vavers said. “If people are flying out to me I’m going to pump fake and drive to the rim.” 

The Bobcats ended the first half in style with redshirt senior forward Richie Springs flying down the court for a chase-down block. On the other end Balanc beat the buzzer, finishing over two Blue Devils to give Quinnipiac a 39-29 lead at the half. 

The second half began with the newcomers continuing to make an early impact. Sophomore forward Amarri Tice opened the second frame with an emphatic and-one, and Vavers knocked down his fourth trey. 

Despite the 12-point lead the Blue Devils never went away, with graduate student forward Allan Jeanne-Rose dominating the paint in stretches. 

“They’re a good team, they’re a veteran team,” Pecora said. “I was very concerned with them coming in, and I thought their bench really stepped up and played well.” 

A key part in CCSU hanging around was the amount of unforced turnovers the Bobcats were creating. Junior guard Doug Young struggled in his limiting minutes, turning the ball over four times and throwing the ball into the stands multiple times. 

“He was nervous, he was a little rattled,” Pecora said. “The speed of the game, size of the game, but you know, that’s our job to make him a better basketball player. I got him in the locker room and gave him a hug and I said, ‘Let’s put this one behind us.’”

Young wasn’t the only one with the turnover bug as graduate student guard Savion Lewis led the team with five. Lewis balanced out the errors with 11 assists, but the 12 second half turnovers made things tight coming down the stretch. 

“I wasn’t pleased with the floor game of our seniors, our veterans,” Pecora said. “18 turnovers is unacceptable. Things to work on.” 

With the clock ticking down and a team full of veterans, Pecora had a tough choice to make. Go with the vets or ride the hot-hand in Vavers. He put his trust in Vavers and it paid off as the freshman made impact plays to seal the win.

“He’s trusting in me so I’m giving the trust back,” Vavers said. “It’s an honor, not a lot of freshmen can go down the line and play those last two minutes.” 

His biggest moment came with just over a minute remaining when the young forward drove to the bucket, connecting on a layup while falling to the ground. Vavers’ gritty score would become the game-winner.  

“He made game-winning plays and he is going to be rewarded for that,” Pecora said. 

The Blue Devils failed to convert on any chances in the final minute, their best look coming off a step-back jumper from senior guard Jordan Jones that clanked off the rim. 

Balanc stayed steady at the line, sinking both his free throws to seal the deal for the Bobcats. 

Quinnipiac will be back in action on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. when it travels to Amherst for a game against Massachusetts. 

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About the Contributors
Colin Kennedy
Colin Kennedy, Managing Editor
Tripp Menhall
Tripp Menhall, Creative Director

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