Quinnipiac Men’s Basketball Defeats Dartmouth 81-72 Behind Double-Double From Nweke, Continues Historic Start

Connor Wilson

After opening up the season with three consecutive road wins, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team continued its hot streak in its home opener as the Bobcats defeated the Dartmouth Big Green 81-72 in a neck-and-neck contest on Tuesday evening at M&T Bank Arena.

With the win, the Bobcats improve on what already is their best start to a season in Division I program history, which dates back to the 1998-99 season. Head coach Baker Dunleavy is pleased with how his team has fought through the first few games of the season.

“Obviously I’m really proud of the way our guys battled,” Dunleavy said. “Resilient here early in the season and we’ve had our ups and downs, but when it comes to closing time I feel like we’ve brought out some of our best.”

The Bobcats were led by graduate student forward Ike Nweke, as the Columbia transfer had his first double-double in white and gold with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He also made his presence known on the defensive end.

“It’s extremely special for me to have my parents be able to come to this game as well as just being able to see friendly faces in the crowd knowing the community is coming to support us,” Nweke said.

This season, Nweke has begun to incorporate a three-pointer into his already profound offensive game. He hit another one today and has three on the season. That comes after making just one in 65 games with the Lions.

“Shooting threes is something I didn’t really do as much at Columbia,” Nweke said. “(The staff has) helped me rework my shot and given me confidence to do those things.”

Fellow transfer and junior forward Paul Otieno also had his best game so far this season with 14 points, six rebounds, and three blocks.

The Bobcats were in control for a majority of the first half, going on a 21-0 run at one point to turn a 15-12 deficit into a 33-15 lead, but the Big Green clawed their way back led by some hot three-point shooting from a pair of sophomores in guard Ryan Cornish and forward Cade Haskins, with the latter having a game-high 19 points.

Redshirt senior guard Matt Balanc was in some foul trouble in the first half, but the Preseason All-MAAC First Teamer finished with nine points and a pair of breakaway jams. His counterpart in the backcourt, junior guard Dezi Jones, had a slow start in the first half but picked it up and finished with 14 points.

“It’s my job to keep everybody under control,” Jones said. “Making sure everybody is in the right spots and everyone is calm so we don’t have to force anything or rush anything.”

The Bobcats did just that, ending the game on an 11-2 run after the final media timeout and securing their fourth consecutive victory to open the year.

“We want to change the narrative that we can actually be one of the better teams in the MAAC, but also one of the better teams in the country,” Nweke said.

Up next for Quinnipiac is another home game on Friday as the Bobcats take on Division III Albertus Magnus at 4 p.m. looking to start the year 5-0.