Quinnipiac men’s basketball rides hot second half in win over Maine

By on November 25, 2018

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
In its first game after Thanksgiving, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team came from behind to defeat Maine, 58-50, on Sunday afternoon at the People’s United Center.

Freshman guard Tyrese Williams led the Bobcats with a career-high 19 points while graduate student guard Cam Young added 12.

After scoring just 19 points and trailing by seven at the half, Quinnipiac (2-2) exploded for 39 second-half points (seven 3-pointers). Maine (0-6) was limited to 1-for-12 from behind the arc after the break.

“I thought the guys brought a great deal of energy in the second half,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “I thought we had that energy at New Hampshire (in Tuesday’s win), but for whatever reason it didn’t carry over to the start of the game today. It’s nice for us to show each other that we can turn the tide mid-game.”

Similar to the season opener at Villanova and the home opener against Hartford, the Bobcats stumbled out of the gate. Quinnipiac had just three first-half turnovers, but shot 6-for-24 (4-for-15 from deep and 3-for-10 from the line) and managed only 19 points.

Maine redshirt junior guard Isaiah White kept the Black Bears in front, scoring 10 points before the break to lead all scorers.

Coming out of the locker room, Quinnipiac made a slight tweak to the lineup, starting senior guard Aaron Robinson over junior guard Travis Atson, who had two fouls in the first half and played only five minutes.

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Robinson went scoreless in the first half, but was immediately a factor in the second. Quinnipiac implemented a 1-2-2 press to speed up the Black Bears and try to get some easy baskets, and the Bobcats scored 18 points off of Maine turnovers in the second half.

“It’s about keeping a little bit of pressure on them,” Dunleavy said. “We have a young team, so sometimes putting pressure and using a press can get your guys going. We can’t need that – some games we’ll have to play in the halfcourt only – but in this game our guys needed more life.”

Robinson came to life in the second half, scoring all 11 of his points, shooting 4-for-5 from the floor and hitting a trio of 3-pointers while anchoring the press.

“He was the MVP of our game, by far, just in terms of the energy he brought and the life he gave our team,” Dunleavy said. “It was infectious and I’m really proud of the way he played.”

After trailing for the entire first half, Quinnipiac first pulled ahead, 33-32, on a 3-ball from sophomore forward Jacob Rigoni with 14:20 to play. Maine regained the lead at 34-33, but Robinson hit a three and the Bobcats never relinquished the lead again.

Williams scored 13 of his 19 in the second half, hitting two 3-pointers in each half and adding seven defensive rebounds in the game.

“As a guard, if you rebound the ball it’s in your hands already so you can just push it and try to get the ball going up and down and getting easy baskets,” Williams said. “Over time, just me – and really any guards – just getting in there and rebounding, that’s great.”

The most important stat of the day for Williams wasn’t points or rebounds, though – it was turnovers. In the first three games, he averaged 2.3 turnovers per game. On Sunday, he had just one, and it came in the final minute of the game.

“He played the point guard with a scorer’s mentality, and that’s what he is,” Dunleavy said. “He’s a scorer, but he’s an unselfish player, too, who is trying to make the right plays. He’s not going to turn into a true point guard overnight, he just has to make the best reads he can.”

Quinnipiac will look to extend its win streak to three games on Wednesday at 7 p.m. as the Bobcats head north to visit UMass Amherst.

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