It was yet another close game played by the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team on Wednesday night in Hamden however, this one ended with the Bobcats on the high side.
Quinnipiac (6-11, 3-2 MAAC) needed overtime to take down visiting Marist (3-13, 1-3 MAAC) 80-79, but the Bobcats improved to 6-3 in games decided by two points or less this season.
[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Quinnipiac Athletics” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Senior guard Cam Young led the way, especially down the stretch, as he scored the Bobcats final five points, including the game-winning free throws with just 4.8 seconds to play. Young finished with 26 points and nine rebounds in 41 minutes.
“I was just trying to stay aggressive for my teammates,” Young said. “I know they want me to make plays and they believe in me so, I know that I can make the right play whether that be pass it or shoot it.”
Freshman guard Rich Kelly and freshman forward Jacob Rigoni each pitched in 18 for the Bobcats, 28 of which came in the second half or overtime. Rigoni, who hit 5-of-9 3-pointers, once again gave his teammates the credit for his big night.
“My teammates do a great job of finding the open player and tonight it was me,” Rigoni said. “I was able to knock some down.”
Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy was pleased with the play of his freshman point guard Kelly, especially when it came to rebounding.
“The thing that I love is obviously he had some big baskets for us but he had five defensive rebounds,” Dunleavy said. “And from your point guard, especially against a team that shoots that many threes, the ball comes off long so your guard have to be ready to rebound. It was big that he did that.”
Quinnipiac was able to turn this one around after a tough first half in which they shot just 32.3 percent from the field. Despite trailing by six at the break, they played much better on the defensive end in the second half and overtime especially defending the three. After shooting 4-for-7 from deep in the first half, Marist was just 4-for-17 the rest of the way.
The Bobcats were forced to make adjustments with graduate student guard Isaiah Washington, one of their better defenders, in foul trouble. Dunleavy opted to go have his team drop back into a matchup zone on the defensive end to disrupt the rhythm in the second half.
“I thought defensively the second half I thought we did a much better job,” Dunleavy said. “(The zone) has been something we’ve been working on in practice. I thought we were communicating pretty well in it.”
[media-credit id=2200 align=”alignright” width=”198″][/media-credit]With junior forward Abdulai Bundu battling through an illness, it was senior forward Chaise Daniels who anchored the zone most of the second half. Despite not having one of his best offensive games with just six points, Daniels was able to make an impact on the other end of the floor.
“I thought Chaise was bringing really good energy,” Dunleavy said. “I thought his presence at the rim in the zone, that he was talking back there and I don’t think his numbers reflect how well he played and it really contributed to us winning.”
Marist’s leading scorer, junior guard Brian Parker, had 26 points for the Red Foxes, but he shot just 6-for-15 from the field. Freshman guard Austin Williams (7-for-9) and sophomore center Tobias Sjoberg (5-for-7) were the only Marist players to shoot over 50 percent from the field.
Playing in close games has become second nature for the Bobcats as 14 of their first 17 games have been decided by less than 10 points. However, Dunleavy doesn’t seem too concerned.
“It never is pretty for us and we’re starting to kind of embrace that,” Dunleavy said. “If we’re not comfortable in these situations yet, we should be. (I’m) proud of the way our guys gutted it out. I thought we executed in some really good ways down the stretch.”
Quinnipiac will continue conference play Friday as they will travel to Lawrenceville, New Jersey to take on Rider.