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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac clinches share of MAAC title with nine-point win over Marist

George Maddaloni
Sophomore forward Amarri Tice rises above the defense for a dunk in Quinnipiac’s 73-64 victory over Marist at M&T Bank Arena on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

HAMDEN — It was a banner night for Quinnipiac men’s basketball. The play itself wasn’t outstanding, but it was good enough for the Bobcats to clinch a share of the MAAC regular season title Thursday night.

The 73-64 win over visiting Marist gave head coach Tom Pecora and company the program’s first co-regular season title in over a decade and first since joining the MAAC in 2013. 

“We’re honored to be co-champions right now, no matter what happens (against Saint Peter’s on Saturday),” Pecora said. “This group is deserving of that, they’ve worked their tails off to get it.”

On the court, the Bobcats struggled to open play, both to defend the glass against Marist’s fast-paced offense and to stay out of foul trouble. Senior forward Paul Otieno, and redshirt senior forwards Richie Springs and JJ Riggins racked up a combined 11 fouls on the night. 

With Otieno — one of the Bobcats’ three captains — sitting for the majority of the game, the bench was prematurely forced to open up. The aforementioned Springs reached double-digit points for only the fifth time all season, and junior Doug Young was a spark plug on both sides of the ball. 

Young was able to swing the tide in Quinnipiac’s favor late in the second half. His four steals were a season-high for the junior college transfer. 

“He changed the whole tempo of the game just by pressuring the basketball,” Pecora said of Young, who had nine points off the bench. “I’m thrilled for his growth, not only as a player, but as a person here. He’s becoming a better person every day.”

His growth on the court was evident. Though shooting just one-for-five from deep, the Houston native found his groove under the rim and forced the Red Foxes’ defense into difficult situations in the paint.

Quinnipiac graduate student guard Matt Balanc attempts a layup in the Bobcats’ 73-64 victory against Marist at M&T Bank Arena on Thursday, March 7, 2024.
(George Maddaloni)

Add in some strong defensive stands by the Bobcats and the hosts were showing why they were now crowned co-conference champions. 

“I think their physicality in the first half kind of got us rattled,” Marist head coach John Dunne said. “We missed some (chip shots) we could have made. Once we got the early lead, they kind of turned it up a level.” 

Quinnipiac’s starters began rocky, but were able to settle in throughout the second half to really ice the game away. Redshirt senior Matt Balanc (17 points, six rebounds) and sophomore forward Amarri Tice (16 points, nine rebounds) set the tone for the Bobcats in the waning moments. Not just for themselves, but for each other.

“It’s March now, so we know how to calm each other down,” Tice said. “We talk about it a lot in the locker room … just finishing out the game.”

Tice made reference to March a number of times in his postgame press conference. After faltering in four straight, the Bobcats have now won three in a row since the calendar switched and see themselves in a prime position to go far in the conference bracket. 

“We worked really hard for this,” Springs said. 

“We’re co-champions, but we have bigger goals,” Tice added. “We’re all like family, we’re like brothers … That’s what winning teams are and that’s what winning teams do.”

The Bobcats are now locked in as a top-two seed heading into Atlantic City for the MAAC Tournament. The earliest they can suit up will be 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, but before that, the team has to make a trip down to Saint Peter’s.

The co-champions of the MAAC regular season — the first time that sentence will ever be published — now have their eyes set on bigger goals, despite the recent accolade. 

“We won’t celebrate … because we still have to go down to the tournament and take advantage of who we are,” Pecora said. “I love this place. … It’s really hard not to have success here.”

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Ethan Hurwitz
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor

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