Quinnipiac Men’s Basketball Upsets Marist in MAAC Tournament Opener


Lo Yarnall

The No. 11 Quinnipiac men’s basketball team opened up the 2022 MAAC Tournament with a late-night storm, upsetting No. 6 Marist, 77-52. Graduate student Jacob Rigoni headlined the win, scoring a team-leading 26 points and tying his career-best in threes made with seven.

“Our defense, rebounding, toughness and intelligence set the tone for us, gave us confidence,” head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “I think that’s why we were able to have an offensive explosion of sorts.”

The Bobcats came out of the gate hot, with sophomore Dezi Jones taking control of the pace early. Opening triples from Jones and Rigoni gave Quinnipiac an 6-2 lead that it wouldn’t give up for the rest of regulation.

Marist experienced shooting struggles the entire game, only one of 10 falling from three-point range in the first half. On the opposite end, Jones and Rigoni continued to take the offensive lead while graduate student Kevin Marfo and junior J.J. Riggins commanded the paint underneath the basket.

“We ran them off the line, doing it as a team… running the confidence off of them so they don’t get comfortable trying to make shots,” Jones said.

Marist adjusted its offense with seven minutes left in the first, switching missed shots for aggressive drives to the rim. Picking up the pace, the Red Foxes scored three baskets in one minute to chip away at the lead. First-year Jao Ituka was Marist’s pace-setter, exposing the Bobcats’ weakness in getting back in transition and dropping six points.

Despite the relentless layups from Marist, Quinnipiac maintained the lead throughout the entire first half. Bobcats entered halftime with a 31-25 lead.

Out of the locker room, Quinnipiac continued to utilize the three-pointer. Jones and redshirt junior Matt Balanc nailed four triples each, finishing with 20 and 18 points respectively. Jones also tallied his first double-double of the season.

The Bobcats would lead Marist by as much as 25 points, both teams’ physicality being overshadowed by Quinnipiac’s points from deep. The team would finish shooting 43% from the field, 48% from long-range and 88.9% from the free throw line.

With the win, Quinnipiac advanced to the quarterfinals of the MAAC Tournament, where the Bobcats will face the No. 3 Siena Saints. That game is set to tip-off Thursday night at 7 p.m.

“For the next 36 hours, our focus will solely be on Siena,” said Dunleavy. “We’re going to be single-minded, one day at a time.”