MAAC Tournament Quarterfinal Preview: How Can Marist Take Down Quinnipiac?

Marist has advanced to the quarterfinals of the MAAC Tournament following their 61-50 win over the Manhattan Jaspers Tuesday night. Their opponent will be the three-seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats, a team that swept them in the regular season. 

This matchup provides a lot of storylines, but maybe the biggest one centers around what happened in the MAAC Tournament last season. 11-seeded Quinnipiac upset six-seeded Marist in the first round, beating them 77-52 to end their season. That left a sour taste in the Red Foxes’ mouth, sending them to the offseason a lot quicker than expected. 

Regular Season Matchups

Marist at Quinnipiac: 1/31/2023

Result: Quinnipiac 72-66 Marist

Quinnipiac G Matt Balanc: 18 points, 7-for-12 shooting, 4-for-5 from three

Quinnipiac G Dezi Jones: 14 points, 5-for-11 shooting, 3-for-4 from three, nine assists

Marist F Patrick Gardner: 17 points, 7-for-16 shooting, five assists

Quinnipiac at Marist: 3/4/2023

Result: Quinnipiac 88-76 Marist

Quinnipiac G Dezi Jones: 21 points, 7-for-14 shooting, seven rebounds, six assists

Quinnipiac G Matt Balanc: 21 points, 7-for-11 shooting, 5-for-six from three

Marist F Patrick Gardner: 27 points, 10-for-22 shooting, nine rebounds, three blocks

Keys to the Game

1: Keep Dezi Jones Out of the Paint

The All-MAAC Second Team recipient is someone with an incredible amount of speed and quickness. Whether it is off isolation or the pick and roll, Jones constantly gets in the paint with his dribble. From there, he is able to decide whether to look for his own shot or dish it out to a teammate on the perimeter. 

Jones averaged 7.5 assists against Marist in their two matchups, a significant uptick from his 3.8 assists per game for the season. Something about the Red Foxes defensive game plan allows for him to be so effective as a playmaker.  

Marist will need their guards to stay attached to Jones at all times. Isaiah Brickner, Noah Harris and Kam Farris will play an important role on that side of the ball. If they can contain Jones to an extent, Quinnipiac may have some difficulty generating good looks.

2: Find Secondary Scoring Alongside Patrick Gardner 

Gardner has been the main source of offense for the Red Foxes all-season long. Marist has found success when other players have been able to score at a high percentage alongside him. That was the case against the Jaspers in the first round of the MAAC Tournament, as the other four starters accounted for 25 points.

Noah Harris and Kam Farris are two guys that play a major role in generating scoring for the Red Foxes. Harris had nine points in Tuesday’s win against Manhattan, all of which came on three-pointers. The same can be said for Farris, who rediscovered the scoring touch at the end of the regular season. The junior from Burlington, Vermont is averaging 11.3 points over his last eight games.

Marist will push Quinnipiac to the brink if they are able to find contributions from everyone not named Patrick Gardner. The Bobcats are going to force the rest of the team to beat them, the question is can they add 30-35 points to go along with what Gardner gets? 

3: Run Quinnipiac Off the Three-Point Line

The Bobcats swept the season series against Marist because of what they were able to do offensively. On Jan. 31, Quinnipiac made 11 three-pointers on 50 percent shooting. Quinnipiac was even more potent from downtown in the second matchup, hitting 13 threes on 56.5 percent shooting in their win on Mar. 4.

The three-headed monster of Matt Balanc, Luis Kortright and Tyrese Williams is very difficult to guard. Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy will go to a four-guard system to have all of them on the floor at the same time. That spacing allows Dezi Jones to get downhill whenever he wants. 

Balanc, Kortright and Williams are talented players, but they are far less effective when forced to shoot off the dribble. If Marist can put them in a position where Quinnipiac has to take more long twos instead of threes, the Red Foxes may be in-line for an upset. 

4: Dominate on the Offensive Glass

One of the areas Marist dominated in the two regular season matchups was offensive rebounding, despite losing both games. On Jan. 31, the Red Foxes had eight offensive rebounds, getting nine second chance points along the way. In their matchup at McCann Arena on Mar. 4, Marist had a staggering 14 offensive rebounds and 14 second chance points.

The size that Patrick Gardner and Stephane Ingo bring when they are both on the floor is difficult to contain. Ingo has not played heavy minutes throughout the season (averages 16.9 minutes) as he has not played at least 30 minutes in a game since late November. 

Marist won’t have the physical advantage down low like they did against Manhattan, but that does not mean they should go away from the two-big lineup. The Red Foxes are at their best when Ingo is out there and making his presence felt on both ends. 

Edited by Ricardo Martinez

Photo from Marist Athletics

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