3-seeded Bobcats upset by No. 11 Red Foxes in quarterfinal, losing by 16


Photo: Peyton McKenzie

Noah Epstein

The Marist Red Foxes have been a one-man show all year.

Redshirt senior Patrick Gardner is the only Red Fox that averages double digits in points, with 19 points per game on the season. He also leads the team with six rebounds per game.

While Gardner scored an expected 22 points and tallied nine rebounds, he got some unexpected help from teammates Isaiah Brickner and Tyler Saint-Furcy.

The three combined to score almost as much as the entire Quinnipiac Bobcats team on Thursday night, as the No. 11 Red Foxes upset the No. 3 Bobcats 75-59 to advance to the MAAC semifinals.

Gardner was outstanding on both ends of the floor. He shot the ball well from the outside and inside, took shots whether they were highly contested or not and drained nine out of his 16 attempts. He also had three offensive rebounds. On the defensive end, Gardner grabbed six additional boards and a game-high five blocks. It seemed like anytime a Bobcat would go in the paint Gardner was there to clean up a shot attempt.

First-year Isaiah Brickner, who averages just over seven points per game, scored a career-high 21 points on Thursday. He made six of seven field goals, which included five three-pointers. Brickner also added six assists and six rebounds in what was undoubtedly the best game of his career.

“I’m confident in my shot,” Brickner said. “I work on it every day, so coming out I know I can shoot. And my coaches and my teammates have confidence in me, they go under a lot of ball screens. I just took my time and knocked the shots down.”

Although Marist is ranked ninth in the MAAC three-point percentage and Quinnipiac is ranked first, Brickner helped flip the script. The Red Foxes shot 42% from deep, while the Bobcats shot an uncharacteristic 26%. Marist made three more shots from beyond the arc than the best deep-ball shooting team in the conference.

Another difference maker for Marist was senior Tyler Saint-Furcy, who averages just two points per game and, just like Brickner, had his best offensive game of the season. Saint-Furcy scored a season-high 10 points, to go along with five boards and two assists. One of the assists was a no-look pass to Brickner at the top of the key who then made one of his five threes.

Gardner, Brickner and Saint-Furcy combined to shoot 18-27 from the field, which is an extraordinary 67%. The three were extremely efficient, took high-percentage shots and had great ball movement among each other.

The 16-point loss ended the season for the three-seeded Bobcats who shot abysmally from the field and from beyond the arc. They were also out-rebounded and out-hustled especially in the second half when Bobcat players looked exhausted and not nearly as energized as the Red Foxes.

This same Bobcats team beat Marist both times during the regular season, including on Saturday, March 4 on Marist’s Senior Night. Marist head coach John Dunne said the recent loss to Quinnipiac was beneficial to the Red Foxes heading into Thursday’s game.

“They gave it to us on Senior Night just a few days ago, which probably helped us win tonight,” Dunne said. “We had a sense of urgency and preparation like I haven’t seen all year these last couple of days.”

Gardner reaffirmed Dunne’s thoughts about the importance of the last couple of days of practice for Marist.

“We had to play with way more energy, way more physicality, better drops, better switches because they’re a very highly skilled team,” Gardner said.

They certainly played with more energy, as the Red Foxes on the bench were jumping up and down while watching their teammates on the floor dive for loose balls, box out their opponents and create open looks on offense.

Quinnipiac grad student Tyrese Williams, who got a rare start in Thursday’s game, acknowledged the energy difference between the two teams.

“Their intensity was higher than ours tonight,” Williams said. “We didn’t attack the glass defensively like we talked about before the game.”

Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy reflected on his players, especially his first recruiting class, which includes Williams.

“We have a tremendous group of guys that are easy to root for,” Dunleavy said. “Guys that people see around campus and hopefully can connect with and relate to. And more importantly than anything a group of three guys in Savion [Lewis], Tyrese [Williams] and Matt [Balanc] who in an era where people leave, they stuck it out here at Quinnipiac and dedicated themselves to our university as students, as athletes, as men. And I’m really, really proud of that.”

No. 11 Marist takes on No. 10 Saint Peter’s in the MAAC semifinals on Friday at 8:30 p.m.