BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Freshman guard Peter Kiss (New York, N.Y.), who won his second straight MAAC Rookie of the Week earlier in the day, capped off an 18-point, 12-rebound effort with the winning basket with 1.9 seconds left as the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team rallied in the second half for a comeback 73-71 road win over Fairfield on Monday evening at Webster Bank Arena.
With the win, Quinnipiac moves to 10-14 overall and back level at 7-7 in the MAAC, putting it in strong position to challenge for an opening round tournament bye (which go to the top five finishers). Fairfield, meanwhile, slips to 11-11 overall and 6-7 in league play with the loss.
Kiss put Quinnipiac ahead 71-69 on a driving jumper with 41 seconds left, but Fairfield’s Tyler Nelson, who had a game-high 29 points, answered with a tough lay-up on the other end to even the score back up at 71-71 with 31.4 seconds left. Quinnipiac called a timeout with the chance to virtually hold for the last shot with a 1.4 second differential, and Kiss came out to get the ball near midcourt before making his move with six seconds on the clock. He drove to his left past his defender, and with big man Amadou Sidibe sliding up to help, he pulled up for a floater with 1.9 seconds left to give the Bobcats the lead. Fairfield inbounded the ball to Nelson, who took a 50-footer at the buzzer that was tantalizingly close from a Stags perspective, but it hit off the rim as the Bobcats came away with the big comeback victory.
The Bobcats trailed by 10 at the half, fell behind by as many as 14 early in the second, and were still down by 11 (65-54) with 7:00 to play. However, they used a timely 11-0 run to get back even on a lay-up from junior forward Chaise Daniels (Meriden, Conn.) off a feed from freshman guard Mikey Dixon (New Castle, Del.) with 2:27 left. Dixon started the run when he snuck in behind Fairfield’s Curtis Cobb to poke the ball away and race the length of the court for a lay-up to close to nine. Daniels then put back a Dixon miss on the next possession to make it a 65-58 game with 5:19 on the clock.
The run continued as Kiss found senior guard Daniel Harris (Tampa, Fla.) for a three-pointer in the left corner to close to within 65-61. Harris finished with 10 of his 14 points in the second half on three three-pointers, after the Bobcats did not make a three in the first half. After a Fairfield turnover,, junior guard Reggie Oliver (Apopka, Fla.) hit a one-handed floater on the bast break to make the score 65-63 with 3:07 to go, and after Kiss rebounded a Nelson miss, Dixon found Daniels for the tie.
Nelson gave the Stags back the lead with a pair of foul shots, but Daniels answered with a jump hook in the paint to tie the score 67-67 with 1:39 to go. Kiss grabbed another big defensive rebound, and made two of four at the line while grabbing the offensive rebound after his first miss. Nelson then got the rim for a layup to make it 69-69, before he and Kiss traded baskets to set up the game-winner.
Fairfield led almost the entire first half behind hot shooting from beyond the arc (eight threes). The Bobcats were within 35-32 with 1:23 left in the opening half after a Daniel Harris (Tampa, Fla.) put back, but the Stags hit two straight three-pointers, the first from Jerome Segura and the second on a Segura pass to Thomas Nolan to push the lead to nine. Matija Milin split two foul shots with 2.9 seconds to end the half with the Stags ahead 42-32.
Kiss had his second straight double-double after tallying 23 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in Saturday’s win over Niagara. Daniels almost had his second straight double-double as well, but ended with 12 points and nine rebounds. Quinnipiac held a 49-37 rebounding advantage despite playing without two of its four primary frontcourt players with injuries (Donovan Smith, Abdulai Bundu). Dixon also finished with 14 points and a career-high eight rebounds.
Quinnipiac is back in action on Thursday night when it hosts Saint Peter’s at 8 p.m. in a game that will be shown on ESPN3 as part of the MAAC Game of the Week package. It will also be a doubleheader with the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team, which faces Marist at 5 p.m. on ESPN3.