QU Men’s Basketball Earns First Win of the Season, 86-69 Over Albany

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QU Men’s Basketball Earns First Win of the Season, 86-69 Over Albany

Jacob Shiffer

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Returning home for Thanksgiving and the sight of familiar surroundings brings a sense of joy around the holiday. On Friday night, you could see that same joy in a Quinnipiac basketball team returning to its home court.

The Quinnipiac University Bobcats men’s basketball team got off to a fast start in the Bobcat Invitational, as they defeated the University of Albany Great Danes 86-69 in their first home game of the season. The win earned the school its 300th victory at the Division I level.

“It was nice for us to get home,” Bobcats head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “Anytime you’re playing in a three-game event, you just really hope that your players keep their focus on game one.”

Junior guard Rich Kelly shook off the early-season rust and finished with 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting and a 6-for-7 three-point shooting performance.

Long-range shooting was the key to victory as the Bobcats made 17 three-pointers, six more than their first two games combined, and shot 51% from behind the arc.

The Bobcats were energized early on when a pick-and-roll between first-year center Seth Pinkney and redshirt first-year Savion Lewis ended with Pinkney slamming an alley-oop that had the Bobcats bench jumping.

After the highlight play, the team found its groove, making eight 3-pointers on 50% shooting in the first half. Utilizing a ball-screen offense, the team had a stretch of four straight 3-pointers that lifted the deep-range burden of the first two games off their shoulders in just one half.

The Great Danes struggled defending the pick-and-roll of Kelly and redshirt junior forward Kevin Marfo. The play created wide-open corner shooters, which led to most of the Bobcats’ three-pointers.

“They have a certain ball-screen defense where Kevin was able to get behind the roll and they had to tag him,” Kelly said. “He’s a beast in there and if they didn’t tag him, he’s gonna get a bucket. Him rolling hard and being the player that he is, they had to tag so hard that it allowed our shooters to be open.”

The Bobcats continued their three-point run as their first nine points of the second half all came from behind the arc, with Kelly, redshirt first-year guard Matt Balanc and sophomore guard Tyrese Williams handling the long-range duties. Their first two-point bucket of the half brought even more excitement when Marfo found himself open after setting a screen and had a dunk that got the bench off their feet.

Later on in the half, the Bobcats spent a little over two minutes on a 12-0 run, behind two three-pointers from Kelly and yet another Marfo dunk that had the team celebrating again.

As the clock wound down, the Great Danes couldn’t find the fuel to spark a comeback, and the Bobcats cruised to the 17-point victory.

The Bobcats finished with 24 assists, seven more than their season total, as Kelly led the way with six.

“I was really happy with the way we played unselfishly,” Dunleavy said. “The ball really moved. We executed at a high level.”

The Bobcats will play game two of the Bobcats Invitational tomorrow night at 6:30pm when they take on the Presbyterian College Blue Hose.