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Men’s basketball finding ways to win down stretch
The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team knows that an ugly win is much easier to swallow than a pretty loss. With the season entering the stretch run, the Bobcats won two important home games last week by nearly identical scores.
On Thursday night, they edged out Sacred Heart, 72-68, and came back on Saturday to notch a 73-68 win over St. Francis (N.Y.). The wins improved the Bobcats’ record to 10-11 overall and 4-7 in Northeast Conference play.
The game against Sacred Heart featured many Pioneers fans that made the commute from Fairfield to Hamden in order to give the home team a hard time. But their efforts were futile as the Bobcats hung tough.
Junior guard Adam Gonzalez led the way with 18 points, and guards John Winchester and Craig Benson were also in double figures, scoring 13 and 10 points respectively.
After taking a 35-26 halftime lead, the Bobcats came out firing to start the second half, building the lead as high as 13 with just over seven minutes to play.
But the Pioneers battled back and even took a 66-65 lead with 1:31 left in the game. The Pioneers attack was led by center Kibwe Trim and forward Jarrid Frye, who totaled 23 points each, equaling more than two-thirds of the Sacred Heart offense.
But a Benson 3-pointer with 1:12 left to play plus a few Winchester free throws sealed the deal for Quinnipiac.
After the game, head coach Joe DeSantis commended his team on its work to contain the dual threat of Sacred Heart.
“We were doing a great job of containing Trim and Frye up until we lost the 13-point lead,” DeSantis said. “We know Trim is one of the best big men in the league and our game plan was to slow them down. But we persevered and it was a tremendous win for us.”
DeSantis also saw the glass as half full when he talked about Quinnipiac’s ability to play well even when a game that was once firmly in hand looked to be slipping away.
“You can sit there and say that these guys don’t know how to win,” DeSantis said. “Well, they did and they can hold their heads high. We didn’t quit, and we stopped them in the end.”
Saturday’s game featured just as many ups and downs. After building a 19-3 halfway through the first half, St. Francis (N.Y.) chipped away at the deficit, closing it to six points at the half, and taking a 50-44 lead at the 10:42 mark of the second half.
But the Bobcats roared back, going back and forth with the Terriers, brining the score to 64-64 with three minutes to play. The Bobcats ended the game on a 9-3 run highlighted by free throws to earn the victory.
Five players scored in double figures for Quinnipiac, with Gonzalez and Kevin Jolley leading the way with 16 points apiece, followed by Benson and Karl Anderson with 14 points each, and Winchester adding 13 points. The five players combined for all 73 of Quinnipiac’s points.
The effort was without Victor Akinyanju, who reinjured his ankle during the win over Sacred Heart.
The Bobcats hit the road this weekend, heading to Pennsylvania as they take on St. Francis (Pa.) on Friday night followed by Robert Morris on Sunday afternoon.