Men’s Basketball Holds On Against Niagara, Wins Fourth Straight Game


Photos: Aidan Sheedy

Connor Wilson

Playing in their first game in nearly three weeks, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team defeated the Niagara Purple Eagles 77-68 on Friday afternoon at the People’s United Center for their fourth consecutive win.

The Bobcats were eager to get back on the court, having not played since Dec. 11. 

“It feels great (to get back on the court),” sophomore guard Dezi Jones said. “We’ve been practicing for two weeks to get ready for this moment and then the game (against Penn State) got canceled so we keep practicing, practicing and everybody put in the extra work to get to the opportunity to play this game.”

All of that practice paid off early as the Bobcats came out of the gates scorching hot from three point land, hitting their first four triples and jumping out to a 21-11 lead just seven minutes into the game. Jones led all scorers in the game with 20 points on 8-15 shooting and he also added five rebounds and eight assists.

Graduate student Kevin Marfo notched his sixth double-double of the season with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. 

“I’m just trying to make the right play,” Marfo said. “We got a lot of good players that know how to play and the way they were guarding us, it put me in situations where I had to make my play.”

Fellow graduate student Jacob Rigoni also had 14 points and knocked down four of seven three pointers including a late dagger to put the Bobcats up by five with 20 seconds remaining.

The Bobcats entered the locker room at halftime with a 46-30 lead, but the lead quickly shrank to single digits thanks to a 9-2 Niagara run capped off by a three pointer by senior guard Marcus Hammond, who entered the game as the leading scorer in the MAAC averaging 17.5 points per game.

Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy had a game plan to limit Hammond’s touches and looks, and it worked as he was held to only 12 points on just 4-12 shooting.

“Guys like Tymu Chenery, Tyrese Williams, and a little bit of Bernie Blunt as well did a really good job on Marcus Hammond,” Dunleavy said. “I think he’s one of the best scorers in our league, one of the toughest covers, and I thought we prioritized him and did a good job.”

Niagara continued all throughout the second half to chip away and really gained momentum after back-to-back threes by graduate student guard Justin Roberts to make it a 59-52 game.

The Purple Eagles cut it to as close as a two point game with 1:25 to play, but a 7-0 run sparked by Rigoni’s clutch three and a pair of free throws each by Jones and Marfo put the game away for the Bobcats.

Dunleavy was happy with the win, but was also very grateful that the game could be played in the first place.

“You can see a lot of games around our league being canceled right now due to COVID,” Dunleavy said. “We’re lucky to be able to play this game, we’re lucky to be healthy enough to play it, and also play to get better because you have to play games to improve.”

Up next for Quinnipiac was supposed to be a home game on Jan. 2 against Rider, but the game has been postponed. The Bobcats will travel to Buffalo to take on the Canisius Golden Griffins on Jan. 7 at 1 p.m. at the Koessler Center.