Men’s Basketball Never Trails In Blowout Win Over First Place Iona

Connor Wilson

The Quinnipiac Bobcats men’s basketball team defeated the Iona Gaels 81-58 on Sunday afternoon in Hamden, Connecticut, while they searched for their third consecutive win of 2023.

Quinnipiac was locked in from the opening tip, as the Bobcats started the game on a 9-0 run and forced Iona head coach Rick Pitino to use a quick timeout. From there, Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy and his team were on cruise control.

“We knew we were gonna need a full 40 minutes,” Dunleavy said. “It’s a game of runs and, even though we ended up winning by 20 points or so, it felt like Iona was never out of the game.”

The Bobcats were led by junior guard Dezi Jones, who had 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Joining Jones in double figures was junior forward Paul Otieno, who had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, and junior guard Luis Kortright, who had 11 points. Otieno also drew the assignment of Iona’s junior forward Nelly Junior Joseph and held him under his usual scoring average.

“He just gives us energy to our team defensively,” Dunleavy said about Otieno. “Great scoring game here, but some games he’s not gonna (score) and he doesn’t really care.”

Once the Bobcats jumped out to their early lead, they kept on adding to the lead. Graduate student, Tyrese Williams hit a pair of threes in the first half and Quinnipiac quickly built the lead up to double digits.

Iona was led in scoring by junior guard Daniss Jenkins, who finished with 17 points before he fouled out with over eight minutes remaining in the contest. Jenkins was the only Gael to record a field goal in the first 16 minutes of the game while the team struggled as a whole. Joseph was also in double figures, netting a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Gaels were without the services of two of their key players in the loss, as sophomore guard Walter Clayton Jr. and senior forward Quinn Slazinski were both out with injuries.

“I think we had a really good day today and that they probably didn’t play their best,” Dunleavy said. “And Walter Clayton Jr. is probably their best player and he didn’t play today.”

In the second half, Pitino picked up a quick technical foul and the bench received another one shortly after. Jones hit all four technical free throws for the Bobcats and the momentum shifted.

“It makes us happy and hypes everyone up,” Jones said about the technical fouls. “We’re in their heads.”

Quinnipiac expanded the lead to as many as 32 points as Iona began to press and force some turnovers as the lead started to dwindle. Strong ball handling from Jones, Kortright and redshirt senior guard Matt Balanc kept the Bobcats in check.

During their brief comeback, the Gaels got some solid production from some of their younger players. Sophomore guard Anton Brookshire scored 14 points and freshman guard Cruz Davis added 13 points. 

By the final buzzer, the Bobcats found themselves with a 23-point win over an Iona team that entered the day undefeated in MAAC play and tied for first in the conference standings. But for the players, it was just an ordinary game.

“It’s just another game,” Jones said. “We got more games and you know the next game we play against them they’re gonna come right back and try and get their revenge.”

Up next for Quinnipiac is another home game as the Bobcats welcome reigning MAAC Tournament Champions St. Peter’s to Hamden on Jan. 13 and look to avenge their loss against the Peacocks from December.