Quinnipiac’s freshman sensation Mikey Dixon continued his stellar rookie campaign with a career-high 27 point performance, leading the Bobcats in a 97-91 overtime win over defending MAAC champions Iona Saturday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, CT.
“I never expect freshmen to do what he’s done,” head coach Tom Moore said of Dixon after the game. “I expected him to be really good because I watched him a ton in the April and July periods and I had a feeling he had a chance to be really good.”
Dixon improved his season average to 15.9 ppg, best in the MAAC amongst freshmen ahead of teammate Peter Kiss (12.2) and Rider’s Stevie Jordan (11.9 ppg).
“You don’t ever go in as a coach and say ‘Okay, we can bank on these type of numbers from a freshman,’ so I didn’t expect the numbers to be where they are,” Moore added. “There hasn’t been a lack of production making two steps in his minutes, almost eight to ten minute increments. Talk about guys growing up quicker, he’s growing up really quickly.”
Iona, coming off a 98-75 throttling of Canisius last Sunday, held a ten point lead with 7:32 remaining in regulation off an 8-0 run capped by back to back 3-pointers from Sam Cassell Jr., giving the Gaels their largest lead of the game.
However, Quinnipiac responded with a 18-8 run to grab a two point lead on a Chaise Daniels layup with 1:09 remaining. Daniels accounted for 10 of the Bobcats’ 18 points during that late run and finished the game with a season-high 22.
Jordan Washington then converted on a fast break layup, capping off a 17-point second half for the senior and knotting the score at 77.
With a chance to win the game, Dixon drove the lane once more, but failed to get an off-balance shot to drop, sending the Bobcats and Gaels to the second overtime meeting of their eight-game history.
Quinnipiac opened the extra period on a 10-1 run capped by a Reggie Oliver 3-pointer. Kiss added seven of his 15 points down the stretch as the Bobcats sealed the victory from the free throw line and improved to 4-4 in conference play.
Daniels and Donovan Smith each recorded their third double-doubles of the year as Daniels added 11 rebounds. Smith tied a season high with 15 points to go along with 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Washington led the way with 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Gaels, recording his third double-double of the season. The senior also recorded his first career 3-pointer late in the overtime period. After being held to four points in the first half, Washington exploded with 12 of Iona’s first 15 points after halftime.
“You can’t just play half a game at this level,” a disappointed Tim Cluess said despite Washington’s final line. “Real players play a full game.”
Junior guard Deyshonee Much made his return to the court after a four-game absence and connected on three of seven 3-point attempts en-route to a 13 point total. It was the most points Much, a member of the preseason All-MAAC Third Team, recorded since notching 17 against UC Santa Barbara on December 21.
“It’s good to have him back,” Cluess said of Much. “We obviously used him a little bit today and I thought he did a nice job first game back. It’s just that we have to play hard for 40 minutes and we just can’t seem to find a way to do that right now, or we just miss a lot of easy looks and we make some turnovers that you just shake your head right now. We have to value the ball more.”
Freshman E.J. Crawford added 14 for the Gaels while Cassell Jr. and Taylor Bessick rounded out the scoresheet with 11 and 10 respectively.
The game caps a stretch of six games in 13 days for the Bobcats since restarting MAAC play. Quinnipiac finished 3-3 in those contests and now prep for a visit from Canisius on Friday.
Iona will turn around to face local rival Manhattan at Draddy Gymnasium Tuesday before returning home for rematches with Fairfield and Quinnipiac later in the week.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for NYC Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.