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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Saint Peter’s Peacocks’ postseason buzzer beater over Quinnipiac, second-by-second

Tyler Rinko
Quinnipiac graduate student guard Matt Balanc (hands on knees) looks on as Saint Peter’s celebrates its game-winning shot in the MAAC semifinals.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — There are 18.7 seconds left on the clock. 

Quinnipiac men’s basketball is coming out of a full timeout, still down 60-57 in Friday’s MAAC semifinals. Graduate student guard Savion Lewis — who had 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists — gets the inbound pass and starts to dribble left to right. 

16.9, 16.8, 16.7

He passes to the elbow. The receiver? Graduate student guard Matt Balanc. He hasn’t had the best game up to this point. Neither have the majority of the Bobcats — “We struggled at the foul line,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Pecora said. 

They missed 10 from the stripe, including five from senior forward Paul Otieno. It wasn’t the best night for him either, despite his 12 points. The paint, usually where the Kenya native excels, was shut down and any potential maneuvering was rejected.  

“(Defense) is what we lean on,” Saint Peter’s senior guard Latrell Reid said. “60 (points allowed), we win ball games.”

14.4, 14.3, 14.2

Balanc stops, pivots and heads to the sideline after a screen from Otieno. He launches a three that should not have come close to the rim. In his face was Peacocks redshirt sophomore forward Mouhamed Sow. 

The desperation triple arches high. Swish. The Quinnipiac bench erupts and the Bobcats — who had trailed by as much as 10 in the second half — have new life. 

“I was hype, but we had to get back and get a stop,” Balanc said. “We didn’t win the game, we tied it.”

It’s true, the game wasn’t over. Peacocks head coach Bashir Mason, coaching in just his second season for Saint Peter’s, calls a timeout with 10 seconds remaining. 

5.2, 5.1, 5.0

After some give-and-gos between Sow and Reid, the latter takes the ball at the top of the key and drives to his right. He stops, then picks up steam in the paint. 

“We butchered the play, there was supposed to be a back screen,” Mason said. “We didn’t do that, but it was supposed to be in (senior guard Roy Clarke’s) hands.” 

Clarke’s game was subpar. With only five points, his head coach wanted the senior to have his hero moment. Instead, it was Reid taking it to the rim with the game on the line. 

3.3, 3.2, 3.1

Otieno, Balanc and junior guard Alexis Reyes contest the layup. He misses it, but the Bobcats — who outrebounded Saint Peter’s, albeit by just four — couldn’t corral the loose ball. 

“Something we talked about … It’s not about the game-winning shot,” Pecora said. “It’s about making sure there’s not a second opportunity.”

0.9, 0.8, 0.7

“Everybody has faith in me,” Sow said. “I’m just trying to hit one, two, whatever comes my way.”

After just six three-pointers all season, Sow’s semifinal performance was a breakout of sorts. He had drilled three from beyond the arc and was setting the tone for the No. 5 Peacocks all night. 

Sow crashes the paint. He has 13 points, far and away his most of the season. He’s playing valuable minutes because the Peacocks’ other big man — junior forward Michael Houge — had fouled out. 

The missed shot falls right into the hands of Sow, who instantly goes right back up to the rim with under a second remaining.

“I had faith in him that he was gonna make it,” Sow said. “I was like, ‘If you don’t make it, I’m just going to try and get the offensive rebound.’”

And just like Balanc’s out-of-body three just seconds prior, Sow places the ball up in the air with 0.6 ticks on the clock.

Down the net it goes and onto the championship the Peacocks go. 


Saint Peter’s wins, 62-60.

“We were right there physically,” Lewis said. “Obviously, they got the last effort and finished it.”

The physical atmosphere of the game was turned up a notch. It’s something that the Peacocks have preached all season long, even having Mason yell mid-press conference to demonstrate how he wants his team to sound in practice. 

It got the better of the MAAC’s top-seeded Bobcats, who bested Saint Peter’s twice in the regular season, including a statement win to close the schedule.

“Early on in the game, we never really got our flow offensively,” Pecora said. “I think that was the difference maker.”

For Quinnipiac, a Hollywood ending for Balanc’s career and a chance to win a MAAC title evaporates in an instant. For Saint Peter’s, a trip to the conference championship awaits — “survive and advance,” Mason preached.

Now the two programs head their own ways, separated by just a matter of seconds. 

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About the Contributors
Ethan Hurwitz
Ethan Hurwitz, Sports Editor
Tyler Rinko, Associate Photography Editor

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