Sunday, January 7, 2018

Peacocks rebound from missed opportunity at Iona to throttle Quinnipiac

John Dunne and Saint Peter's were able to put collapse at Iona to rest Sunday, thrashing Quinnipiac to remain undefeated at home. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

JERSEY CITY, NJ -- A home win over Monmouth, followed by a road conquest at Siena put Quinnipiac at 2-0 to begin Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. Even after a close loss to Canisius Friday, first-year coach Baker Dunleavy and the Bobcats had gotten everyone’s attention.

Saint Peter’s evidently got the memo. The Peacocks were prepared, putting together a masterful performance to defeat Quinnipiac by the final of 84-58 at the Yanitelli Center.

The seeds for this victory were actually sown a day earlier. On Friday evening, Saint Peter’s (8-7, 2-2 MAAC) lost two double-digit leads and lost a game at Iona, one head coach John Dunne said his team “literally gave away.” With little time to prepare, the Peacocks were back at it on Saturday. 

“I thought we would play well today,” Dunne said, “because after a tough loss, we had a good film session yesterday at 1 p.m., followed by a productive walkthrough. We were locked in.” 

For Saint Peter’s, it was an early start with no letting up. The Peacocks led 13-6 after the first four minutes. They kept their foot on the gas. By halftime, the lead was fifteen. The Bobcats were unable to make a run of any significance. The lead grew to 26 the second half and stayed over 20 points for a good portion of that final half. This was all part of the game plan devised by Dunne.

“We were concerned with Cameron Young," Dunne said of Quinnipiac's leading scorer. “We also noticed in their MAAC games, Quinnipiac trailed early and clawed their way back. We wanted to keep the intensity going. If we got the lead as we did, we were determined to keep at it and not let them back in it.” 

Young did lead Quinnipiac with 18 points. As for the other part of the plan, mission accomplished.

On a day both teams combined to attempt 55 three-pointers, Saint Peter’s excelled. The Peacocks shot 62 percent overall from the floor, making 12 of their 21 shots from distance.

“When we shoot well, we've won,” Dunne said. “When we don't shoot as well, we need to figure out something else as getting to the foul line.” 

A lack of a dominant power game this season has turned Saint Peter’s into a perimeter team. 

“I think that's the way the game is played,” Dunne said. “The days of two dominant post players are gone. We'll continue to shoot threes, but if we have the opportunity to drive to the basket, we won't pass that up.” 

Four Peacocks scored in double figures, with Nick Griffin leading the way with 22 points and connecting on five of eight three-point attempts. Saint Peter’s also assisted on 22 of 32 field goals, something Dunne has preached since the beginning of the season. The victory was the Peacocks’ sixth in as many tries at Yanitelli Center. 

In what Dunne considers a wide open MAAC race, he is hopeful naturally for the highest finish possible. 

“Even if you don't win the league, a high seed is an advantage in the postseason tournament,” he said. "You need to win at home, then steal a few on the road. That’s the key to a successful conference record.”

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