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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac blows out the candles, completes comeback on head coach Tom Pecora’s birthday

Zack Hochberg
Sophomore forward Amarri Tice shoots a free throw as graduate student guard Savion Lewis (center) watches on.

HAMDEN — For Quinnipiac men’s basketball head coach Tom Pecora, the mini cheesecakes he received from university president Judy Olian was the second best gift he could have asked for on his 66th birthday.

“President Olian, she gave me two little cheesecake cakes,” Pecora said. “I gave them to (junior guard) Doug (Young) because he played so well.”

If any performance deserved cake Sunday afternoon, it was Young’s breakout game. His 24 points set a season-high and helped complete a 14-point comeback to knock off Iona 91-87. 

“He’s passionate about what he does,” Pecora said. “It was so great to see him do that.”

With the Bobcats down, Young and graduate guard Savion Lewis began to take over the offense. With the Gaels beginning to slow down, Quinnipiac’s backcourt started to wear out Iona. 

“Having two point guards … It’s hard to press a team with two point guards,” Young said. “(Our relationship) has been developing since day one.”

Getting into the win column seemed a lot murkier with just five minutes to play, as the Gaels — who entered today hitting 8.1 three pointers a game — had exploded from beyond the arc. Iona hit 14 from deep, including six from graduate guard Idan Tretout.

His 30 points paced both sides, yet the Bobcats were able to limit him when it mattered. 

“He’s really good at taking his time,” sophomore forward Amarri Tice said. “As a team, when he did get a shot … we were able to push it.”

Taking the ball to the rack became the mantra for the hosts, who found themselves down double digits for a significant amount of time in the second half. A timeout by Pecora settled Quinnipiac’s nerves and let the comeback percolate. 

Slowly, but surely, the Bobcats chipped away. A few tough layups from Young, along with 15 points from graduate guard Matt Balanc, gave Quinnipiac a fighting chance. Over the final three minutes, a 13-1 run — punctuated by “money” free throws, as Young put it — nailed down the Bobcats’ 15th victory of the year.

“I’m very proud of all of them,” Pecora said. “(Lewis and Balanc) rose to the occasion in the second half.”

The biggest bucket of the game came off the right hand of Lewis. With under 30 seconds left on the game clock, the Dix Hills, New York, native drove and perfectly placed the ball off the glass to give the Bobcats the slim one-point lead.

“It was just about us bearing down and finishing possessions,” Pecora said. 

Tice agreed with his head coach.

“Our biggest thing is sticking together,” Tice said. “We can handle adversity and we’ve shown that multiple times.”

It wasn’t all perfect for Quinnipiac, as 18 turnovers was something Pecora wanted cleaned up. But for a MAAC win over the defending conference champions, it was a great birthday for the Bobcats’ head coach.

“Really good game, MAAC basketball right?” Pecora said. “It’s really about if we can get the next one.”

That next one? Thursday night against Mount St. Mary’s. The Bobcats, now carrying a five-game win streak, welcome in the Mountaineers for their first of two matchups this season.

As for Young, his postgame dessert made the win that much sweeter. 

“(They were) great.”

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Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

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