Quinnipiac men’s basketball comes from behind and picks up overtime win over Rider

By on February 13, 2019

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team came back from trailing by seven with 24 seconds left to beat the Rider Broncs in overtime in Tuesday’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference clash in Hamden, 98-88.

Despite a lackluster first half which saw the Bobcats (13-10, 8-4 MAAC) shooting just 25 percent from deep, the team was able to pull it together behind freshman guard Tyrese Williams and sophomore forward Jacob Rigoni. In the final 44 seconds, Rigoni hit a three followed by a Bronc (12-13, 7-6 MAAC) free throw to make the score 79-72.

“(I was) trying to focus on my technique,” Rigoni said. “It’s just me on the line out there, make the first shot and keep repeating that. You sit there, and take it in, and one shot at a time…just lock in on the rim and do what you do.”

Morgan Tencza
Now down by seven with 24 seconds left, Williams sprang into action, hitting two shots from downtown. Rigoni then nailed three free throws after being fouled behind the arc with a second left to tie the game and force overtime. Rigoni finished the night with a double-double, scoring 14 points and leading all players with 12 boards.

“[Tyrese] did a great job of letting us know to keep playing…,” Rigoni said. “It just says a lot about his character and how his leadership’s come along to bring the group together when we’re down. We’re down seven and the guys are flat and to pick us up was a great effort by him.”

Williams finished the game with 23 points while shooting 7-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-10 from downtown. He set career highs in each of those categories. Williams’ growth is gaining him comparisons to fellow teammate sophomore guard Rich Kelly during his freshman campaign.

Filling in for an injured Kelly at the start of the season, Williams received a lot of playing time. Yet since Kelly’s return to action on Dec. 1 at Stony Brook, Williams has seen at least 30 minutes in 11 of those 18 games, including Tuesday’s against Rider. The amount of minutes he plays almost makes him start to forget he’s a freshman, according to Williams.

“Definitely,” Williams said. “Coach said in the beginning of the season that he was going to need me to be a sophomore by January.”

Rider did control the game for a large majority of regulation, specifically the first 37 minutes. It saw junior guard Stevie Jordan break 1,000 career points for the Broncs as he finished with 17 on the night. The Broncs also controlled the offensive glass 19-9. Jordan grabbed two offensive rebounds and finished with nine total.

“We know that’s not the way we want to play for 37 minutes, it’s not the way we want to look,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “We can live with ourselves if we lose to a really good team and we play well, but it just didn’t feel like us out there.”

Despite not feeling like the team they know they are, this victory aids Dunleavy in establishing a culture of never giving up on a game.

“In that moment, you’re probably thinking ‘we’re not going to win this, probably,’” Dunleavy said. “I keep developing the mindset of ‘we fight until the very end’ and we keep clawing, scratching and digging until the final buzzer so that that becomes our personality.”

The Bobcats look ahead to Friday, Feb. 15 in a home tilt with Marist. The Red Foxes come in riding a two game winning streak and are currently seventh in the MAAC. With Quinnipiac now in a three-way tie for second place with Siena and Canisius, this is going to be a big game for the Bobcats.

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