Quinnipiac Men’s Basketball Eliminated in MAAC Semifinals


(Photo: Connor Lawless/Quinnipiac Chronicle)

Jack Main

No. 11 Quinnipiac men’s basketball saw its season come to a close against No. 2 Saint Peter’s Friday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

In a season that saw so many ups and downs, the Bobcats showed extraordinary fight against the MAAC’s best defensive team but came out on the wrong side of a physical 64-52 loss.

“Two really high effort teams. Teams that wanted to be here, and I think deserved to be here,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “I think Saint Peter’s in the second half pulled away with some incredible defensive effort, and we weren’t able to kind of match their level, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. Our opponent was just slightly better.”

Quinnipiac didn’t lack any effort in the first half. Redshirt junior guard Matt Balanc came out of the gates on fire, scoring 11 points in the first 6:30. He helped the Bobcats jump out to an early 15-7 lead. But once Balanc hit the bench, Saint Peter’s was able to come back, going on a 5-0 run.

Quinnipiac had an opportunity to halt it before the MAAC’s best defender, junior forward KC Ndefo picked sophomore guard Tymu Chenery’s pocket and finished off with a right-hand slam to give Saint Peter’s a 22-21 lead.

From that point on, it was back and forth. Bobcats graduate center Kevin Marfo responded with a two-hand slam, and junior forward Hassan Drame came right back with a three-pointer to give the Peacocks a 26-24 lead. Guards Dezi Jones and Doug Edert traded baskets and a pair of Chenery free throws and a Brendan McGuire jumper was enough to give QU a 31-30 lead heading into halftime.

Out of halftime, it became Ndefo’s court, leading Saint Peter’s on a 9-0 run, with the Defensive Player of the Year scoring on back-to-back plays, picking on graduate forward Jacob Rigoni. The Peacocks put the clamps on Quinnipiac defensively, holding the Bobcats to 21% shooting in the second half and forcing six Quinnipiac turnovers.

Even after Ndefo had to sit a majority of the second half in foul trouble, the Bobcats couldn’t overcome the strong paint presence of Saint Peter’s forward Fousseyni Dramme who locked up Marfo and J.J. Riggins for a combined four points in the second half.

“They switched their defenses back and fourth, and took us out of our rhythm,” Dunleavy said. “We were on our heels a bit to start that half.”

It was smooth sailing down the stretch, Ndefo nailing the coffin shut with a pair of blocks on Marfo and Chenery, officially ending Quinnipiac’s surprise run.

“We knew what we were capable of and it’s no surprise to get this far,” Balanc said.

We don’t know what’s in store for the Bobcats in the coming year. But the seniors leaving know who should be in charge of Quinnipiac basketball moving forward.

“Being in that locker room every single day and being with that coaching staff… there is no one more dedicated to the team and doing the job for us and trying to put us in the best position to win,” Rigoni said. “There is no question who should be leading this team, and I am thankful to be apart of it.”