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Entering the final week of the regular season, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team needs to rack up the W’s in order to gain a spot in the Northeast Conference tournament for the first time since 2003.
Entering the week in 9th place, they would need to jump over Long Island, Sacred Heart or St. Francis (N.Y.) to clinch a postseason spot. The Bobcats hit the road last week, losing on Monday, Feb. 20, at Mount St. Mary’s 82-78, but would rebound nicely Saturday for a 71-65 victory at in-state rival Sacred Heart.
The split leaves the Bobcats with a 7-10 record and in 8th place in the NEC with one game remaining.
The game at Mount St. Mary’s featured a seesaw battle with both teams gaining big leads only to see them slip away. Quinnipiac had built the lead as high as nine points half way through the first half thanks to a 12-2 run highlighted by 3-pointers by Chris Wehye and Dale Meinbresse.
But that’s as big a lead the Bobcats would get on the night as the Mountaineers, led by sensational guard Landy Thompson, cut the deficit to 34-32 at the half.
Just 56 seconds into the second half, Quinnipiac’s lead was erased and the Mountaineers never trailed for the rest of the game. The closest the Bobcats would get again would come at the 8:53 mark, when another 3-pointer from Meinbresse tied the score at 52.
Mount St. Mary’s cruised from then on to the victory.
Thompson led all scorers with 26 points. The leading point-scorer for the Bobcats was senior guard Craig Benson with 15 points. Karl Anderson (14), Job Casmir (11) and John Winchester (10) were also in double figures. However, sloppy play was what doomed the Bobcats, as they made 26 turnovers.
After the game, on the WQUN AM 1220 post-game show, head coach Joe DeSantis spoke of how the road loss served as a major setback for his club.
“We played well tonight, our kids played hard, but we made too many turnovers,” DeSantis said. “You have to give Mount credit. They got in our faces. They play well defensively at home and we were a little tight.”
Saturday’s game would serve better for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac trailed for most of the game, finding it hard to contain Sacred Heart’s dynamic duo of center Kimbwe Trim and forward Jarrid Frye, who helped the Pioneers take a 37-30 lead at the break.
The lead would climb as high as 11 with 11:45 to go in the game. But the Bobcats took over from then on, chipping away at the lead and finally breaking through with 2:47 to go on a pair of Anderson free throws to take a 59-58 lead.
Anderson and Winchester led Quinnipiac with 13 points apiece. Trim (22) and Frye (21) combined for more than two-thirds of Sacred Heart’s offense.
The result of Monday night’s home finale against Central Connecticut at 7 p.m. and the game between St. Francis (N.Y.) and Long Island University will determine whether the Bobcats can earn a spot in the NEC Tournament. As long as Quinnipiac and Long Island both do not lose, the Bobcats will make the playoffs.