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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Full team effort breaks Quinnipiac men’s basketball’s four-game losing streak

Freshman+forward+Rihards+Vavers+drives+to+the+rim+against+Iona+on+March+1%2C+2024.
Ethan Hurwitz
Freshman forward Rihards Vavers drives to the rim against Iona on March 1, 2024.

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — A basketball roster carries 14-15 players, with a usual nine to 10 man rotation playing the majority of the games. 

Quinnipiac men’s basketball has nine players who have played 20+ games this season, with seven of the nine playing every game. Against the Iona Gaels Friday night, the Bobcats utilized a nine-man rotation, with six players eclipsing over 20 minutes en route to a 82-64 win to snap their four-game losing streak. 

“I thought that was going to be our strength throughout the season, because I really believe we’re 10 guys deep,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Pecora said.

The Bobcats were in trouble early after graduate student guard Matt Balanc, junior guard Doug Young and sophomore forward Amarri Tice all committed two fouls within the first five minutes. 

Having to sit those players, the Bobcats rolled out a lineup of graduate student Savion Lewis, freshman Daemar Kelly, both guards, and forwards junior Alexis Reyes, redshirt senior Richie Springs and freshman Rihards Vavers. 

Over a six minute stretch starting at 15:12 left in the first half, this lineup changed the story of the half for Quinnipiac from a close contest to a commanding lead for the Bobcats. When Balanc sat for his second foul,the score was tied at six. When Young and senior forward Paul Otieno checked back in for Vavers and Springs at 8:56, the Bobcats led 25-12.

“We keep talking constantly about, for us to be the best version of ourselves, our depth has got to come into play, and they’re talented,” Pecora said.

Vavers finished with 11 points and three rebounds in 16 minutes. Playing an average of 20 minutes per game, the freshman forward has logged crucial minutes for the Bobcats. He leads the Bobcats in three point percentage at 37.8% (min. 20 attempts). 

Kelly, the second of the trio to come off the bench,  had eight points and three rebounds on 2-3 shooting from beyond the arch. In his 22 minutes, the freshman showed he can be  vital for the Bobcats in the future..

“(Kelly) comes out and he can make threes, he can really defend for a freshman,” Pecora said. “He’s got a good feel for what we’re trying to do defensively.”

Springs was also a spark plug for the Bobcats. In just a 10-minute span, the redshirt senior netted nine points, three rebounds and three key blocks. His defense turned into offense after getting a chasedown block on Iona freshman guard Jeremiah Quigley before during the play south for Vavers to slam home.

“You can see the plays that Richie Springs made tonight,” Pecora said. “He’s a talented kid and he’s still just shaking off the rust with not playing for four years.”

While you do need crewmates to guide the ship, the ones who need to lead it are the captains. For the Bobcats, the three captains — Balanc, Lewis and Otieno — led the group to the win.

“Savion Lewis, Matt Balanc, Otieno, they’ve been together for a while and they’ve had success together,” Iona head coach Tobin Anderson said. 

Despite his foul trouble, Balanc finished with 11 points and three rebounds, while Otieno had a respectable eight points with four rebounds. 

Lewis, playing the most minutes out of any player on the court posting 12 assists to go with nine points. 

“Tonight, (Lewis’) mindset and understanding the way you can impact that game without scoring a ton of points, timely scoring, but picking them apart with passes was very impressive,” Pecora said. 

With the win, the Bobcats became the 11th team in program history to win 20 games. This win, along with a Fairfield loss, puts Quinnipiac back into first place in the MAAC with three games remaining in the regular season.  The Bobcats are back in action on Sunday, when they take on Siena on senior day.

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Ryan Johanson, Associate Sports Editor
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

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