MAAC Tournament: Quinnipiac men’s basketball tops Siena 67-58

Juliana Nikac and Shane Dennehy

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Photo: Liz Flynn

Photo: Liz Flynn

For the first time since its inaugural season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Quinnipiac Bobcats have won a MAAC tournament game. The Bobcats beat the tenth-seeded Siena Saints for the third time this season by a score of 67-58.

Quinnipiac needed to get off to a fast start against Siena since the Saints were playing on their home floor and that is exactly what the Bobcats did. The Bobcats started the game on a 12-2 run in the first four minutes of the game. Isaiah Washington showed his teams dominance early on when he got into the paint and threw down a thunderous slam.

“We had an aggressive mindset and that’s what we’ve been talking about to end the season. Not a lot of teams win their last games but we want to make sure that however are season ends that it ends with us playing aggressively,” head coach Baker Dunleavy said.

The Bobcats had the three ball falling early on and that helped the Bobcats continue to dominate in the first half as the Bobcats made three straight threes out of the first media timeout. Jacob Rigoni and Cam Young were going shot for shot with each other as near the end of the first half the two had the same shooting stats, both Young and Rigoni were 4-for-6 from the field and 3-for-5 from behind the three-point line.

Cam Young sat on the bench last season during Quinnipiac’s first-round loss to Niagara last season but this season Young had a major impact on the game, as he had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

“Sitting there last year watching my team lose was tough and it feels good to be able to get a win with my team this year,” Young said.

Quinnipiac beat Siena to every loose ball during the game and it is that effort that made the Bobcats tough to beat. The Bobcats outrebounded the Saints 41-31 and it will take a similar effort to continue in the MAAC tournament.

Baker Dunleavy continues to have first times this season and tonight it was his first time being the head coach during a conference tournament. Dunleavy did not show any nerves and that showed on his player’s performance as they remained calm and confident throughout the game.

“It’s almost a feeling that you have to control in your mind because if you tell yourself that this could be your last game, it doesn’t allow you to do your job as a coach or a player,” Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy also had Villanova head coach Jay Wright’s support.

“We were texting yesterday talking about Villanova and [Quinnipiac] a little bit,” Dunleavy said. “Yes, he gives me advice but I’ve drawn upon the seven years on staff and the four years as a player.”

Despite a Siena fan yelling for Saints players to ignore head coach Jimmy Patsos, the Siena players did listen to Patsos and their performance improved in the second half. The Saints began the second half on an 11-3 run and after back-to-back three-pointers from Jordan Horn, the Bobcats took a timeout.

Quinnipiac has relied on its freshmen all season long and tonight’s game was no different as down the stretch when the Bobcats were struggling to score Rich Kelly and Rigoni started a spark by hitting a free three-pointer. Kelly led all scorers with 18 points, while Rigoni had 17 points. Kelly and Rigoni have matured throughout the season and Dunleavy will continue to rely on these two freshmen throughout the rest of the tournament.

The Bobcats could not get a shot to fall as they missed every field goal attempt in the final eight minutes of the game. Quinnipiac also turned the ball over 18 times and those are the two things that Quinnipiac will need to avoid if it wants to play deep into the MAAC tournament.

“I think us having experience being up 20 in a game would’ve helped,” Dunleavy said jokingly. “We try to balance, staying aggressive, keep attacking, keep going for your looks and at the same time, if you have the opportunity maybe burn 25 seconds here or there.”

Quinnipiac will have a short turnaround, as it will play the two-seeded Canisius Golden Griffins tomorrow night at 9:30 p.m. The Golden Griffs beat the Bobcats both times this season and the Bobcats will be hoping its third time lucky tomorrow night.