Quinnipiac men’s basketball drops contest at Hartford, 77-75

Peter Dewey

[media-credit id=2158 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team was unable to come up with its second straight win as it fell to the University of Hartford 77-75 at Chase Arena in Hartford on Thursday.

Quinnipiac (3-7) led 74-71 with under a minute to play, but graduate student forward Alain Chigha’s offensive foul, followed by a five-second violation put Hartford (4-6) ahead 76-74 with 22 seconds left. After trading free throws, Quinnipiac trailed 77-75 with six seconds left, but graduate student guard Isaiah Washington’s jumper was off-line at the buzzer.

“We just needed one or two more stops there,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “Obviously the five-second call and the tough foul, but we try to tell our guys, especially on the road that we need to build a four, six, eight, point lead.”

Quinnipiac was led by senior guard Cam Young, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds. Despite one of his best games of the year, Young wasn’t satisfied with the outcome.

“The performance doesn’t really make a difference, we wanted to win,” Young said.  “I think we played good defensively the majority of the game. We kind of let up at the end.”

The Bobcats turned it over twice in the final minute and were unable to come up with key stops down the stretch. Despite leading early in the second half, they failed to put the game out of reach. However, Dunleavy believes that being on the road, the game didn’t just come down to that last minute.

“We’ve got to be able to weather that storm and the weathering of that storm takes place for all 40 minutes, not just what happens at the end,” Dunleavy said.

[media-credit id=2158 align=”alignright” width=”173″][/media-credit]Quinnipiac struggled shooting the three ball in this one, as it was just 7-for-30 from beyond the arc. Still, Dunleavy felt it was the defense that needs improvement.

“We just got to really work on our defense and getting ourselves more connected, I think that’s the main thing,” Dunleavy said. “It’s not the mentality to fight if we go down. We’re always going to keep fighting, and we did tonight, but ‘How do you not go down,’ and ‘How do you have more consistency on a night to night basis?’”

The Bobcats trailed early in this one, as Hartford went on a 10-2 run to take a 21-11 lead with 12 minutes to play in the first half. However, they battled back to take a 38-36 lead at halftime.

“We used our zone press to get back into it,” Dunleavy said. “(We) were really active defensively, it started at that end. We have talented guys offensively that can make some plays, but we really got ourselves going at that (the defensive) end.”

A bright spot for Quinnipiac in this one was junior forward Abdulai Bundu, who played arguably his best game of the season. Bundu posted 13 points and eight rebounds over 26 minutes off the bench.

“I thought [Bundu] was playing with great energy,” Dunleavy said. “I thought he gave us our best chance to get stops with rebounding and I liked the way he was in there fighting and battling, so he really earned the opportunity to play today.”

The extended run for Bundu meant less minutes for senior forward Chaise Daniels. Daniels, who came in as Quinnipiac’s leading scorer, was held to just five points in 13 minutes of action. Daniels also picked up a technical foul late in the first half, after a play in which he seemed to be fouled, but Dunleavy isn’t planning to make any changes in the near future.

“[Daniels] is one of our most important guys so we’re going to stick with him, we’re going to go back to him,” Dunleavy said.  “But tonight, I just felt like [Bundu] was earning the opportunity.”

With conference play coming down the pike, Quinnipiac will look to improve its record in its last two non-conference games against Drexel on Dec. 18 and Vermont on Dec. 21, both on the road.

While Dunleavy was proud of his team’s effort, he was emphatic in the area they need to improve.

“The constant has to be defensive effort,” Dunleavy said. “That’s where we got to get better.”