Backed By Sold Out Crowd, Men’s Basketball Defeats Fairfield 66-51 on Rivalry Night

Connor Wilson

In a sold-out M&T Bank Arena on Friday evening, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team defeated in-state rival Fairfield 66-51 to move to 17-6 overall and 8-4 in MAAC play.

It was a slow start for both teams offensively, as combined the Bobcats and Stags shot just 1-23 from beyond the arc in the first half with the lone triple hit by Quinnipiac graduate student guard Tyrese Williams. Both teams had long stretches without points and after the first 20 minutes, the Bobcats led 26-21.

Despite the lead at the break, the Bobcats found themselves down by as many as 12 points when the score was 18-6 with just under 13 minutes to play in the half. After head coach Baker Dunleavy called a timeout, the resilient group allowed just three points and one field goal the rest of the half.

“We turned the ball over and gave them some layups early in the game,” Dunleavy said. “But when defending in the half court we were doing a good job.”

The Bobcats were led by graduate student forward Ike Nweke, who cashed in 18 points on an efficient 9-for-13 shooting and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Nweke had a tall task at hand having to deal with Fairfield’s frontcourt but responded with one of his best defensive performances of the season.

‘I’m trying to hold my own and show I’m not just a one-sided player,” Nweke said about his ability to defend. “A lot of people talk about my low post ability and my offensive ability, but I want to be able to show I can be as physical and rebound with the best of the best.”

Joining Nweke in double figures were junior guards Luis Kortright and Dezi Jones. Kortright showed off his versatility as well with six rebounds and six assists. He also showed some versatility in a different way, as the usual sixth man was called upon to make his fourth start of the season.

“It’s all about who ends the game,” Kortright said. “I’m out there most of the time anyways so I’m comfortable any place you put me.”

The Stags never could get the engine started offensively, as they shot 33% from the field and an abysmal 6% from three. Graduate student guard Caleb Fields connected on the lone triple for Fairfield and the team missed 15.


As for the rest of the Stags, senior forward Allan Jeanne-Rose led the team with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting. The only other Fairfield player in double figures was junior guard Jalen Leach, who had 10 points. Forward Supreme Cook entered the game as the Stags’ leading scorer but registered just six points in this one.

The sold-out crowd was a huge boost for the Bobcats as both student sections were filled to the brim. A big reason for that was the promotion of the game as a “Rivalry Game” against the in-state foe. Students also had the opportunity to win both tickets to the men’s ice hockey game against Yale as well as round-trip tickets to Florida courtesy of new athletics sponsor, Avelo Airlines.

The crows had plenty to cheer about, as there were multiple highlights plays all throughout. Redshirt senior guard Matt Balanc and Williams each had chase down blocks and Jones connected with Balanc from nearly half-court on an alley-oop. Junior guard Tymu Chenery picked Fields’ pocket and secured a fastbreak and-1 finish on the other end.

At the end of the day, the Bobcat players had one simple message to all of the fans:

“Keep coming,” Kortright said.

“Coming from Columbia where we don’t have an arena, just a gym, but having an arena and that many seats in the gym and the whole place being packed out was an amazing feeling,” Nweke added.

Up next for Quinnipiac is another home game as the Bobcats will look to sweep their three-game home stand on Sunday against the newest MAAC addition Mount St. Mary’s at 2:00 p.m.