Men’s basketball tops Holy Cross in home opener

Men's basketball tops Holy Cross in home opener

Tyrell Walden-Martin

On the heels of back-to-back road losses against Sacred Heart and Vermont to start the season, Quinnipiac men’s basketball’s Chaise Daniels, Giovanni McLean and Daniel Harris knew they couldn’t let the losing streak continue in Hamden.

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Behind double-figure point totals for all three the Bobcats bested Holy Cross 62-56, snapping the two-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center.

“It was great to get our first win,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “With this group being new to college basketball and to each other, every win is going to be hard fought like it was today.”

Quinnipiac trailed Holy Cross for most of the game (27:36).

The Bobcats struggled from the field in the first half, shooting just 37 percent. Yet, Quinnipiac never let the Crusaders build up a sizable lead as they forced Holy Cross to shoot nearly 36 percent from the field.

Daniels, who celebrated his 20th birthday today, paced the Bobcats in the first half with 10 points and four rebounds with a series of low-post scores.

“Last year I didn’t play too well on my birthday,” Daniels said. “I just went into the game with my normal routine, just hoping to have a good game and win.”

The Bobcats went into the half trailing 30-26, but knew that they could quickly turn it around and come back.

Quinnipiac slowly battled back in the second half with an emphasis on attacking the basket.

“I thought our guards were too passive with the ball in the first half,” Moore said. “In the second half, I called for a few high ball screens and it forced our guards to put it on the floor and it got them to attack the basket a lot more.”

With McLean attacking the basket, it opened up scoring opportunities for Harris to knock down threes and for the forwards to finish under the rim.

With 5:18 remaining in the second half, Daniels got fouled and knocked down both free throws to cut the deficit to 50-49. Quinnipiac forced a Holy Cross miss, and on the next possession, Samuel Dingba got fouled.
Dingba made the first free throw to tie the game at 50, then missed the second. James Ford Jr. was able to grab the offensive rebound and kick it out to Harris, who knocked down the three-pointer to give Quinnipiac a lead that it would never relinquish.

“These guys expect me to knock big shots down and that’s what I am here for,” Harris said. “During the second half we were struggling, we were down three and couldn’t get over that hump. Once I hit that three it helped the crowd get into it and propel us to the win.”

Harris, who finished with 16 points credits his success in the game to his teammates.

“Playing with these two [McLean and Daniels] I don’t have to do much,” Harris said. “I just play off of these guys and make shots to make their jobs that much easier.”

McLean, who finished with 11 points, seven assists and six assists acknowledged that the Bobcats will rely on him and Daniels to help pull out wins.

“Whatever it takes to win,” McLean said. “Coach designated Chaise and I to be the number one and two option. It can be any one of us on any given night, just whatever it takes to win.”

Daniels set a career-high in points (20) and rebounds (12) knows that he has to be an offensive threat if the Bobcats hope to compete.

“This year, my role is to be a dominant post player,” Daniels said. “Every game I have to come out and be aggressive and try to find places to score.”

After the game, Moore raved about how special he believes his big man is and can be.

“I think his ceiling is limitless,” Moore said. “The quicker he gets there, then the better it is for him and for me. He has talent, size and a motor. He is super emotional and plays super hard every day.”

Moore even went on to compare Daniels to a former star big-man Justin Rutty, but added that even Rutty wasn’t expected to carry the load as quickly.

“What we are asking of Chaise so far is unfair,” Moore added. “There is a lot of pressure on him and we are throwing him into the deep end without the floaties and hope he swims. Today he swam.”

The Bobcats are back in action on Tuesday, as they host North Carolina Central University. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

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