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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘It’s an honor’: Quinnipiac men’s basketball pulls out hard-fought win over Army

Cameron Levasseur
Freshman forward Rihards Vavers shoots the ball during Quinnipiac’s nine-point win over Army on Nov. 17, 2023.

WEST POINT, NY — As the final horn sounded, sophomore forward Amarri Tice ran to hug his family. Head coach Tom Pecora greeted a former coaching colleague across the court. It was a thankful postgame for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team, just days ahead of Thanksgiving.

Following a 67-58 victory over Army, the Bobcats could breathe. After all, they just went through a tough, topsy-turvy game against the Black Knights Friday night.

“It was a roller coaster game,” Pecora said. “We came out in the first 10 minutes and I didn’t think we had the spark and the energy you need to have if you’re gonna win on the road. Most games are about sparks and that’s kind of what this became.”

Graduate guard Matt Balanc, who entered today averaging 18.3 points a game, paced the Bobcats once again. His 17 points and 10 rebounds gave him his first double-double of the campaign. Throw in the team-leading 18 points scored by graduate guard Savion Lewis and the Quinnipiac backcourt was the catalyst for the offensive machine all night.

“I was just more aggressive today,” Lewis said. “I started off the season passing the ball a lot (and) getting my teammates involved. The defense, they definitely scouted that, so I found my openings and I just attacked.”

The Quinnipiac bench, however, wasn’t so efficient from the floor. Just seven Bobcats registered a basket in the winning effort, five of which were in the team’s starting lineup. Only junior forward Alexis Reyes and redshirt senior forward JJ Riggins made baskets off the bench, both coming in the second half.

For Reyes though, his performance was one that shone bright — even when he wasn’t in the starting five. His 10 points were third-most on the Bobcats roster.

“(Reyes) played great,” Pecora said. “(Let’s) get him back in the starting lineup.”

“He’s just great,” Lewis added. “He was a leader. He led us.”

The Bobcats were just one game removed from their first loss of the year, where their usage of a zone defense came back to hurt them. Today, they switched it up.

That soft zone defense — which allowed 11 three pointers in a Nov. 13 loss to UMass — was traded out for a man-to-man attack. Army still hit its shots (freshman guard Ryan Curry had three from beyond the arc), but it was a step in the right direction for Pecora’s team.

“I don’t care who you are … winning on the road is always a challenge,” Pecora said. “These kids are as tough as they come.”

A 20-3 run toward the backend of the first half gave the visitors a 36-25 lead heading into the break. Punctuated by a steal and slam from Tice, the Bobcats settled in defensively, not allowing a basket over an eight-minute span.

“We got a couple lackadaisical defensive plays down and I think that allowed them to get back in the game and make a few plays,” Pecora said. “But I think at the end, multiple guys did step up.” 

Out of the locker rooms, the Black Knights began to inch their way forwards. The hosts scored seven straight, aided by some costly Quinnipiac turnovers and a furious block by freshman forward Josh Scovens.

However, Lewis, the Bobcats’ primary ball handler, took control late. The Dix Hills, New York, native got to the line multiple times and hit key shots to keep the lead. When his fifth foul was called, the team brought in Reyes to ice the game.

It was the second of three military academies Quinnipiac will face this schedule. The Bobcats opened up against Coast Guard on Nov. 6 and will welcome in Navy on Dec. 8. It may just be a basketball game, but for Pecora, it’s a little bit more.

​​”It’s an honor,” Pecora said. “I’ve never really met an academy grad that wasn’t an impressive person, male or female. You want to beat them but after this, I’d do anything in the world for those guys.”

The Bobcats will continue their multi-team event with a Nov. 19 date against Albany. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. back in Hamden before a week off.

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About the Contributors
Ethan Hurwitz
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor
Cameron Levasseur
Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

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