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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

MAAC Tournament: Previewing No. 1 Quinnipiac and No. 5 Saint Peter’s ahead of semifinals

Quinn O’Neill
Graduate student guard Matt Balanc makes an acrobatic move in Quinnipiac’s win against Saint Peter’s on Feb. 8.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Unlike last season, Quinnipiac men’s basketball didn’t get knocked out of the MAAC Tournament in its first game. Instead, the No. 1 Bobcats will face off against No. 5 Saint Peter’s in Friday’s semifinals.

Quinnipiac — who had a one-day rest — got to relax as the Peacocks beat the No. 4 Rider Broncs 50-48 in Thursday’s quarterfinal game.

“Survive and advance, we won that game our way,” Saint Peter’s head coach Bashir Mason said Thursday. “Couldn’t be more happy, more proud. That was a game we really, really wanted, and happy we won it.”

It will be the third matchup between these two programs, as the Bobcats came up victorious on Feb. 8 and March 9 of this year. In the first game, Quinnipiac graduate student guard Savion Lewis set the Division I program record for most assists in a season during the Bobcats’ 84-73 win in Hamden. 

“It’s pretty cool,” Lewis said on Feb. 8. “It’s a blessing. I’m grateful for it, but I’m just trying to win the whole thing. That’s my main goal.”

In the season finale, the Peacocks had a chance to upset the Bobcats. Instead, the MAAC’s regular season champions were able to walk out of Run Baby Run Arena in Jersey City, New Jersey, with a win. 

“The message to my team is that we can play with them,” Mason said. “We just need to tighten things up and give ourselves more of a chance.”

That main goal became one step closer to reality for top-seeded Quinnipiac this week. After a lengthy bye, it was able to choke No. 9 Canisius into submission in the MAAC quarterfinals on Wednesday.

“It’s a blessing being here, having this opportunity to compete with my guys and have a chance to win the MAAC Tournament,” Lewis said Wednesday. “I’m just happy to be here with my teammates.”

If the Bobcats want to advance to the MAAC title game on Saturday, they will need to lean on their veterans. Graduate student guards Matt Balanc (17 points) and Lewis (11 assists), as well as senior forward Paul Otieno (19 points, 12 rebounds) carried the way in their postseason opener. 

“A lot of it has to do with the men you’re coaching,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Pecora said Wednesday. “I know every coach says it, but honestly, they’re fun. We have fun in practice.”

If that fun wants to translate into the game, they will need to limit the Peacocks’ fast-paced offense. Sophomore forward Corey Washington (All-MAAC First Team) and senior guard Latrell Reid (All-MAAC Third Team) have been the engine that propelled Saint Peter’s to a 12-8 conference record and Thursday’s postseason victory. 

“This is what it’s about, this is March,” Reid said Thursday. “It’s about who has the most will to win. Everybody knows what everyone’s doing.”

Both sides will come into the game with different energies. For Quinnipiac, a day of rest allows the entire roster — starters and bench — to be available. However, a physical and gutsy win for the Peacocks, especially with a 9 p.m. start time, may mean some tired legs for Saint Peter’s.

The rematch of the 2022 MAAC semifinals is set to tip-off at 6:30 p.m. The winner will punch its ticket into Saturday’s conference championship and give their squad an opportunity to play in March Madness.

“It’s amazing to be here, but I’ve been in college for so long and I only want to win,” Lewis said. “That’s the only thing that really matters.”

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Ethan Hurwitz
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor
Quinn O’Neill, Associate Multimedia Editor

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