Men’s Basketball Falls to Monmouth in MAAC Quarterfinals, Bringing Impressive Season to End

Will Fowler

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Photo: Liz Flynn

The Quinnipiac Bobcats entered Albany as the No. 3 seed, the holder of the MAAC Player of the Year, and a favorite to cut down the nets on Monday night.

As it turned out, their trip would end up being short lived.

Sharpshooting and lackluster defense was the overwhelming theme of the MAAC quarterfinal game between the Quinnipiac Bobcats (16-15, 11-8 MAAC) and the Monmouth Hawks (14-20, 11-8 MAAC), a contest that saw the teams combine for 190 points on 53 percent shooting. Despite only averaging a tick over 64 points a game, Monmouth found a way to drop 98 on the Quinnipiac defense, giving them a 98-92 victory.

“We had a very impressive offensive night, which this group can do,” said Bobcats head coach Baker Dunleavy. “We just didn’t have enough answers defensively.”

That’s about the best way to put it – the Bobcats didn’t have enough, if any, answers on defense. The Hawks, who entered the game as the second-worst shooting team in the conference behind Manhattan, abused the Quinnipiac bigs down low to the tune of 55 percent shooting and 42 points in the paint.

“[They had] a dedicated effort to get there off of the drive, the post up, and the offensive rebounding. They just had a great purpose to get there,” said Dunleavy on Monmouth’s success in the paint. “They had a good game plan, and obviously, that was their focus coming into this. We didn’t do a good enough job of taking that away.”

Monmouth’s charge was led by guard Ray Salnave, who despite being left out of the starting five, recorded 19 points and 6 rebounds in 30 minutes. While Salnave was working the perimeter, Mustapha Traore was dominating the paint, dropping 19 points of his own on 8-for-11 shooting and 5 rebounds.

Salnave and Traore headlined the offense, but it wasn’t a two man show for the Hawks – seven players finished in double figures, including everyone in the starting five.

Despite the loss, the Bobcats were not without offensive firepower either. Sharpshooting forward Jacob Rigoni scored 30 points on 7 made 3-pointers and MAAC Player of the Year Cam Young erupted for 33 in the same arena that he scored 55 points in just a few weeks ago.

Though Rigoni and Young both had impressive showings, it wasn’t enough to go toe-to-toe with the potent Monmouth offense. The teams traded buckets for the first 30 minutes, but with 10 to go in the second frame, Siena ripped off a 21-3 run that effectively put the game out of reach for Dunleavy’s squad.

“We probably stopped scoring at the same rate… our scoring had been carrying us, trading baskets, we probably went on a little bit of a dry spell and they just continued their effort,” Dunleavy said. “This time of year, you’ve got to be able to get stops, and that’s probably what we were unable to do.”

What didn’t make things easier for Quinnipiac was the foul trouble. Rich Kelly, Abdulai Bundu, Kevin Marfo, Tyrese Williams and Tyree Pickron were all sitting on at least three fouls, which sent the Hawks to the double bonus halfway through the second half.

 

The Bobcats made a minor push in the waning minutes, but a comeback was not in the cards – as the seconds ticked down to zero, the Hawks were headed to the semifinal. And the Bobcats were headed home.

Despite it being Cam Young’s final game in a Quinnipiac uniform, the Bobcats return a promising group of key performers – Rich Kelly, Jacob Rigoni, Tyrese Williams, Tyree Pickron, Travis Atson, and Kevin Marfo will all return to the blue and gold next winter.

“I think this one’s going to sit for a while,” said Dunleavy. “We’re going to think about it… and the group that comes back has to address that.”

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Men’s Basketball Falls to Monmouth in MAAC Quarterfinals, Bringing Impressive Season to End