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Quinnipiac vs. Marist: What We Learned

Photo Credit: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Ryan Chichester

 

Another day, another Bobcats’ nail-biter. Close games involving the Bobcats are becoming as much of a sure thing as a Jacob Rigoni three-pointer.

For the ninth time this season, Quinnipiac found themselves in a thriller decided by two points or less, winning 80-79 at home against Marist in overtime. The Bobcats are back above .500 in MAAC play with the win, but have little time to enjoy it as they travel to Rider on Friday.

Here is what we learned from the overtime win:

 

It’s likely never going to be pretty, and that’s okay

In reality, the Bobcats should have put this one away in the closing minutes of regulation. Missed free throws and early fouling on defense allowed Marist to tie the game after trailing by six with 50 seconds left. Finishing the fourth quarter shooting 5-for-9 from the foul line is hardly ideal, but senior Cam Young made the two big free throws when it mattered most in overtime, and Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy will gladly take it.

“It never is pretty for us, and we’re starting to embrace that and take it on as part of our identity,” Dunleavy said. “We’re going to be in tough games.”

Until the Bobcats find a more balanced shooting effort outside of Young and Rigoni, this will be how the Bobcats win games. For an inexperienced team in the middle of a massive rebuild, that’s just fine for now. The blue collar grind of the first five MAAC contests has resulted in a 3-2 record, and the wins are what matters. There are no style points, but the Bobcats will need to continue to evolve if they are to survive the tougher assignments later in the season. For now, this method can work when needed.

If anyone epitomizes this current method, it’s Cam Young. The team’s leader finished with 26 points while shooting 8-for-21 and 1-for-6 from downtown. How? By hitting nine of his 11 free throws. Even when Young isn’t feeling it from the floor, he gets to the line to slow the game down and get the Bobcats some needed points, like on the Bobcats’ last overtime possession last night.

Young struggled mightily from the field last week against Canisius, but attempted 20 foul shots to keep the Bobcats in the game. Hey, whatever works.

 

Jacob Rigoni: lean, mean, three-point shooting machine

I know Rigoni was recruited from Australia, but are we sure he wasn’t created in some overseas lab? The freshman entered Wednesday night’s game leading the MAAC in three-point percentage, and padded that lead by shooting 5-for-9 from beyond the arc to pace the Bobcats’ offense and give them a boost when they needed it most. Rigoni is now hitting 53.3% of his three-pointers and has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the Bobcats’ season so far. What’s scary, is that he continues to get better as his confidence grows with every shot.

 

Jacob Rigoni (PC: Quinnipiac Athletics)

Rigoni played 34 minutes last night, and he has absolutely earned them. He has become the main catalyst off the bench, leapfrogging the Robinson brothers as the team’s ultimate deep threat. If Young continues to drive to the rim, and Chaise Daniels can draw defenders inside the paint, Rigoni can continue to have open looks from deep, which can always help ignite an offense in need of a spark. Rigoni could very well be the X-Factor of this team moving forward.

 

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