The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team beat Long Island University for the second time in three weeks Saturday night and, in the process, clinched a berth in the upcoming Northeast Conference tournament. A Chris Wehye layup with six seconds remaining gave the Bobcats the 70-68 victory and pushed their record to 12-12 overall, 10-5 in conference play. The Blackbirds fell to 9-17 and 5-10 respectively.
This is the second year in a row the ‘Cats have qualified for the postseason tournament. Last year they clinched the eighth and final spot in the tourney but were quickly bounced by a much stronger Fairleigh Dickinson team, falling 66-65 in the first round. Currently the team holds sole possession of second place behind Central Connecticut State. FDU and Sacred Heart are the other two teams that have clinched a berth in the NEC tournament. The postseason begins March 1.
Locking up a berth much earlier this season gives the Bobcats a little breathing room coming down the home stretch. The ‘Cats have three games left in the regular season, all of which are NEC contests. The only question remaining now is which seed the team will secure for the postseason. CCSU already owns the No. 1 seed, having won the conference regular season title.
Saturday night, however, Quinnipiac earned the right to celebrate, even if the win was just one small step toward a larger goal of reaching the NCAA tournament.
Adam Gonzalez and DeMario Anderson, as they have done all season long, led the scoring act with 16 points each. The two have combined to average nearly 30 points per game, making them one of the most lethal scoring pairs in the conference.
Senior sharpshooter Van Crafton also took home some accolades of his own. Crafton’s second 3-pointer of the game, and the 176th of his career, boosted him to fifth place on Quinnipiac’s all-time list, passing 2006 graduate Craig Benson.
Although the Bobcats ended up posting 70 points in the win, they were plagued with an offensive drought to start the game. The ‘Cats came up empty on their first seven attempts and spotted the Blackbirds an 11-0 lead after the opening tip. Quinnipiac cut the lead to 13-8 after an 8-2 run of its own. From there, both teams seemed to trade baskets until Wehye converted on a fast break lay up with 6.3 seconds left in regulation.
The game-winner proved to be a lucky basket for the Bobcats as LIU’s Jaytornah Wisseh dribbled the ball off his foot, leading to a turnover. Wehye then streaked down the court and put the game away with his layup.
LIU has not been able to finish off the ‘Cats in the last two meetings together. In the inaugural game at the TD Banknorth Sports Center Jan. 27, the Bobcats pulled out a 73-71 overtime thriller over the Blackbirds.
Quinnipiac returns to action at home Thursday night versus St. Francis (Pa.).