First half defense propels Bobcats to first MAAC win, 77-63, against Marist

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First half defense propels Bobcats to first MAAC win, 77-63, against Marist

Dylan Fearon

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By: Morey Hershgordon

Tom Moore was forced to call a timeout. The Marist offense had began to click, as it hit seven of its first eight shots in the second half, and it sliced a 17-point deficit down to just five. But for the remaining 14:41 of the second MAAC game of the year, Moore saw something different from his team. Something that he hadn’t seen in quite some time.

“I liked our offensive resilience in the second half. That was something that we didn’t seem to have in our gym bag last year at all. This year’s team has a few more answers.”

Freshman Mikey Dixon scored layups on three of Quinnipiac’s next six possessions, as the lead ballooned back to eleven points. Solid team defense and timely offensive rebounds paved the way for the Bobcats first win in the MAAC, 77-63.

“It’s huge on a lot of levels. It’s a MAAC game. And number two, with this group, we’ve played lousy at home three straight times. We’ve had moments at home, but those are just moments. To go into that locker room with a win, is just a totally different feeling for these kids. To get some of that back, a little bit of home court pride is huge as well.”

The Red Foxes got to within single-digits again, eight points to be exact at the 6:13 mark, but that’s where Moore’s squad came together to put the guests away. Chaise Daniels, Peter Kiss, and Alain Chigha all grabbed rebounds on their next three straight offensive possessions. And on all three, the Bobcats converted from the field and at the free throw line, a big reason they held a 20-8 advantage on second chance points.

“Alain Chigha’s tips and Pete’s offensive rebounds,” Moore said. “I thought we made it really hard on them to box us out. You can always go to offensive glass, and they started to smell that tonight.”

“They stayed together. They answered. And just enough stops, just enough offensive rebounds, just enough putting the ball in the basket. We kept grinding and got the lead back to where it was more comfortable.”

The freshman duo of Mikey Dixon and Peter Kiss continues to be a bright spot this season, as the two combined for 27 points on 12-for-24 shooting. The latter was also just one rebound shy of his first career double-double.

“I’ve been around him for about five or six months now,” Dixon said. “But it feels much longer than that. We click off the court and on the court. I refer to him as my brother a lot. That relationship we have, I feel like, just pours onto the court. He makes a good play, I cheer for him.”

This season Quinnipiac has scored 70 or more points in six of the seven games it’s played. Last year, just 10 times, in the 30 games it played, did it accomplish that feat. While not a part of that team, Dixon acknowledged the improvement.

“As a team today, I felt like we made a big step and that’s a positive. We did get hit with adversity once or twice throughout the game and sometimes we have tendencies to break away, but we stuck together.”

“It’s tremendous for us given that we are fighting to find our identity and trying to be a solid defensive team,” Chigha said. “To be able to come out with a win like this is special because nothing is given in this league. You have to work every day for it.”

The Bobcats hit their stride at the end of the first half, ripping off an impressive 11-0 run over a 2:33 stretch to get their lead to 20. Specifically the defense, a focal point for the team after giving up 90 points in two of their previous three games, sparked the run.

“I thought for the most part, early on, we were positionally we where we were supposed to be. Scouting report wise we knew where everyone was. Not just Parker and Hart.”

At 2-5, Quinnipiac now has a chance to use its home court advantage and rack up some wins against non-conference opponents before MAAC play resumes in January. Hartford comes to town Wednesday night. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.