Quinnipiac rolls past Lafayette

Kevin Higgins

It’s not how you finish, it’s how you start. That saying doesn’t sound right, but it couldn’t be more true for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team. Though the team usually starts games as sluggishly as the Sleeping Giant Mountain that surrounds their campus, the Bobcats (4-4, 0-0 MAAC) lit up the Lafayette Leopards (2-7, 0-0 Patriot League) in the first half while cruising to an 88-77 victory on Saturday afternoon.

“We’ve really been talking about how we start,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “There’s a recognition and acceptance that we need to get better at (starting games). Our guys are concentrating on that, and I’m concentrating on it.”

Starting games is easier when your players look like they’re warming up for a three-point shooting contest.

Quinnipiac found its stroke from deep early and often in this one, draining 10 of their first 12 three-balls to stake the Bobcats to a double-digit lead. Despite a strong showing from Alex Petrie and Kyle Stout, who each scored seven points in the first frame, Lafayette’s defense was shredded throughout the half.

Leading the charge were Quinnipiac guard Cam Young and guard Tyrese Williams, as they scored 34 of Quinnipiac’s 45 first-half points en route to a 15 point halftime lead.

“It’s just my teammates drawing so much attention,” Williams said of his performance. “If you’re wide open, coach gives me the green light to shoot it, so I shoot it.”

In a quintessential Cam Young performance, the preseason all-MAAC guard dropped 28 points on 9-17 shooting, including an efficient 4-8 from three. Young single-handedly muscled the Bobcats to their comfortable halftime edge, as he scored the team’s last 11 points before the break.

Like Williams, Young credited his performance to the aggressive play of his teammates.

“My teammates draw a lot of attention on their drives,” Young explained. “They find me on the kicks and I’m able to see open shots.”

As great as the offense was, the defensive and rebounding abilities of Quinnipiac were the difference-makers. Active hands and feet helped the Bobcats swipe nine steals and score 22 points off of 15 Lafayette turnovers.

Additionally, Quinnipiac held their own on the boards against a longer team. Despite the Leopards having the edge in size, Lafayette only outrebounded Quinnipiac by two, and the Bobcats managed nine offensive rebounds. Kevin Marfo led the charge with eight rebounds, but some of his teammates looked strong on the glass as well, with four other Bobcats managing at least three rebounds apiece.

After extending their lead to as large as 25 in the second half, Quinnipiac took its foot off the gas down the stretch. Couple that with Lafayette running a strong full-court press over the last seven or so minutes, and you get a final score that looks much closer than it really was. The Leopards managed to cut the lead to just 10, but by then the game was already out of reach. Justin Jaworski did all he could for the Leopards as the sophomore point guard shined during garbage time, scoring 12 of his 19 points in the game’s final five minutes.

All in all, Quinnipiac turned in their best performance of the young season on Saturday. The offense was both aggressive and smart, the defense was suffocating when they needed to be, and the hustle and effort were present throughout all 40 minutes. Dunleavy was pleased but not satisfied with his team’s play.

“We’re a work in progress in every way,” Dunleavy said. “I’ve been proud of our progress, but we’re telling our guys that we’re not close to what we want to be.”

The progress continues for Quinnipiac next Sunday when they host Drexel University at 6:00 p.m. As for Lafayette, they will host Rosemont College on December 19 at 7:00 p.m.