Bobcats nearly knock off top seed FDU in NEC on road

Jason Levy

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team has played some close games this season. During the regular season, the team went 6-8 in games decided by six points or less. That penchant for close games continued in the Northeast Conference tournament and like most of the Bobcats’ contests during the season, they were on the wrong end of the equation.

Eighth-seeded Quinnipiac fell to top-seeded and defending NEC champion Fiarleigh Dickinson University, 66-65, on Thursday night in Hackensack, N.J.

The Bobcats fell behind early as the Knights scored the first seven points of the game. The deficit would climb as high as 14 about half way into the first half, with Quinnipiac managing to cut the lead to 41-33 at the half.

When they trailed big, Quinnipiac head coach Joe DeSantis told his players, “Look, there’s a lot of time left, we’ve been down before, and quite frankly we’re better when we’re behind. Keep at it.”

The Bobcats showed their resiliency, slowly chipping away at the lead during the entire second half and eventually grabbed the lead for the first time in the game at 65-64 with 1:11 reaming in the game. On the next possession, Victor Akinyanju managed to steal a pass and call timeout before landing out of bounds to give the Bobcats possession.

But a botched play led to a traveling call on John Winchester, and Fairleigh Dickinson scored on the ensuing possession, leaving just 10 seconds on the clock for Quinnipiac. Adam Gonzalez shot at the buzzer was off the mark, and the Bobcats season came to a halt.

Winchester led the Bobcats with 16 points, with Karl Anderson (15), Gonzalez (13) and senior Craig Benson (11) in double figures.

After the game, DeSantis saw that his team left it all on the court.

“Half the guys were in tears after the game. As much as I was disappointed that we lost, it was good to see the passion they had,” DeSantis said. “A lot of guys these days don’t care whether they win or lose. They showed me that they gave it their all.”

The game marked the last collegiate contest for three seniors – Benson, Kevin Jolley and Nick Tipson.

There will be many big-time contributors returning next season that can form a solid core. Winchester, Anderson, Gonzalez, Akinyanju, Chris Wehye, Dale Meinbresse, Job Casmir and Van Crafton are just some of the players who will be back in 2007 for the Bobcats.