Bobcats lose heartbreaker in closing seconds

Brent Sanchez

Quinnipiac’s six-game win streak ended in dramatic fashion on Monday night, as it fell to Central Connecticut State University (12-15, 8-8 NEC) 67-65 at Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain. The Blue Devils’ Kyle Vinales hit a 30-footer with just 5.4 seconds remaining to hand the Bobcats (14-14, 10-6 NEC) their first loss in nearly a month.

After the Blue Devils cut the lead to one, they were able to stymie the Bobcats on the next possession and put the ball in their leading scorers’ hands. Vinales, who averages over 22 points per game, coolly wound down the clock before dropping a dagger from way downtown. Quinnipiac’s Evan Conti dribbled the length of the court in a last-second effort, but couldn’t get his floater to fall as it banged off the front rim.

It was a back-and-forth battle throughout, with neither side able to build more than a six point lead. In the first half, the Bobcats were able to infiltrate the Blue Devils’ interior and gain a sizable advantage on the glass. Quinnipiac keyed in on Vinales early, holding the nation’s fifth leading scorer to just five points in the opening period. The Bobcats went into the break leading 35-33.

In the second half, the Bobcats fell behind by six with just over five minutes remaining, but they showed their perseverance and fought back into the contest. Quinnipiac went on a 12-3 run to take a 65-62 lead with just under a minute left.

Poor shooting plagued the Bobcats throughout the game, and despite hitting key free throws down the stretch, they shot an ugly 59 percent from the line. Zaid Hearst led the way for Quinnipiac with 17 points, while Conti added nine of his own and grabbed 10 boards.

The loss puts the Bobcats in a three-way tie for third in the Northeast Conference with just two games left on the schedule. They’ll hit the road again on Thursday to take on St. Francis (NY) at 7 p.m.