Quinnipiac men’s basketball drops close game to Canisius, 82-74

Peter Dewey

[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Quinnipiac Athletics” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team was unable to remain undefeated in conference play as it fell to Canisius, 82-74, on Friday night in Hamden.

Canisius (9-7, 3-0 MAAC) picked up its second road win of the season behind 20 points from sophomore guard Isaiah Reese.

Quinnipiac (5-10, 2-1 MAAC) fell behind early in this one, trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half and eventually finding itself down 48-34 at halftime. The Bobcats struggled shooting the ball in the first half, going 9-for-28 from the field and just 3-for-14 from beyond the arc.

“Two minutes in we were okay, but once we got three to four minutes into the game, I think Canisius was just executing at a higher level than us,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “They were very well coached team, really hard to guard and they made our lives pretty tough in the first half.”

Things didn’t get much better in the second half, as Quinnipiac shot just 35.1 percent from the field for the game. Canisius shot identical percentages from the field and from three at 48.1 percent in the game.

Unlike its previous two games against Monmouth and Siena, Quinnipiac was unable to slow down its opponents top scorers. Reese shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range en route to his 20 points and senior forward Jermaine Crumpton shot 7-for-10 from the field and 4-of-5 from deep to give him 19 on the night.  

“We got punched in the mouth a little bit and you can either get up or lay down, but we got up,” Dunleavy said. “We’ve got to be more aggressive at the beginning of games, especially defensively, we have to be more on edge.”

Senior guard Cam Young led the Bobcats with 23 points, but was plagued by foul trouble for much of the second half. Young was unable to get into a rhythm and struggled from the field, shooting just 3-for-13. The majority of Young’s points came from the line, where he hit 16-of-20 free throws.

“I was trying to stay aggressive,” Young said of his mindset. “I struggled a little bit from the field but my team believes in me, so I keep staying aggressive for them.”

[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Quinnipiac Athletics” align=”alignright” width=”177″][/media-credit]Quinnipiac had its chances in this one, cutting the Canisius lead to as little as two in the second half. Freshman forward Jacob Rigoni hit a 3-pointer and a Canisius intentional foul helped bring the Bobcats within four at 65-61. A few Young free throws made it 70-68 with just over four minutes to play, but turnovers stopped the Bobcats from getting any closer.

Freshman point guard Rich Kelly turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions, and had six giveaways on the night. However, Dunleavy isn’t too concerned.

“I think that you probably give the credit to (Canisius). (They had) physical, athletic pressure and I think defensively they were pretty well connected, shutting off all of our roads to penetration,” Dunleavy said. “(Kelly’s) getting better, this game is no different. He’s going to hit bumps in the road, but you just got to bounce back, watch the film and keep working to get better.”

Dunleavy was happy with the way his team came out in the second half, but still wants to see his players start games with more intensity.

“We dug ourselves a hole, we’ve got to be better, but again proud of the way our guys battled back,” Dunleavy said. “I think there was no doubt that we were fighting to the end and we had a chance.”

Playing close games has become the Bobcats status quo this season with 12 of their 15 games having been decided by less than 10 points. Dunleavy feels this is key for his team’s identity.

“We really showed resilience and I think that has been a theme of this team all year, and I’m really proud of that,” Dunleavy said. “It has got to be a staple and a foundation of what our program is going to become. Just a bunch of guys that keep going at you. That’s what we want to be.”

Despite the loss, the Bobcats are still off to an impressive 2-1 start in MAAC play. Quinnipiac will continue its season on Sunday in Jersey City against Saint Peter’s.