Bobcats get back on track with much-needed win over Niagara


Photos: Liz Flynn

Dylan Sommer

Quinnipiac (4-6, 2-4 MAAC) bounced back on Saturday night, splitting the series with Niagara (6-8, 5-7 MAAC) in a 78-69 victory.

The Bobcats were able to quickly find their mark behind the three-point line, as they scored on three of their first four tries from deep in the first five minutes.

Quinnipiac senior Jacob Rigoni took advantage of the several open looks the Niagara defense gave him, and etched his name into the record books. With a successful foul shot, Rigoni became the 43rd Bobcat in program history to reach 1,000 points.

“To get an achievement let this, takes a lot of great teammates and coaches to trust in me,” Rigoni said. “I have been really lucky to play right away and have the coaches’ confidence.”

In addition, the Quinnipiac bench came to play against Niagara.

JJ Riggins tallied a quick seven points off the bench, and forward Brendan McGuire contributed with 19 points and 10 rebounds, both season-highs.

“We are very talented, but we are still young,” McGuire said. “When we play defense and get into transition, good things will happen on the offensive end.”

However, the Purple Eagles did not back down in the slightest. Even though the Bobcats had the early lead, the Purple Eagles tied the score at 38 going into the half. Niagara’s Kobi Nwandu and Marcus Hammond went a combined 14-29 from the floor, and scored 42 of Niagara’s 69 points.

In the start of the second half, Quinnipiac took their aggression to the next level. The Bobcats won in both offensive and defensive rebounds, and committed less turnovers.

Center Seth Pinkney played a huge role in the defense’s success by hauling in three offensive rebounds and five defensive rebounds. Pinkney also scored 15 points and made all five of his shots. Ultimately, Quinnipiac’s groove on offense and defense was too much for Niagara to handle.

“I am happy with our step forward,” head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “I really like the potential and the ceiling of this team on both sides of the ball.”

The Bobcats’ offense vastly improved their efficiency compared to their performance on Friday night. Quinnipiac shot 46.9% from the floor and went 7-21 on three-pointers, a 15% improvement from the floor.

“We wanted to get the ball inside first as opposed to settling,” Baker Dunleavy said. “I believe that was our offensive key.”

With the win, Quinnipiac ends their losing streak and improves to 4-6. Meanwhile, Niagara suffers a hard loss, falling to 6-8.

The Bobcats will look to continue their winning ways as they travel to Buffalo, New York to face off against the Canisius Golden Griffins on Saturday night.