Quinnipiac men’s basketball outlasts Dartmouth, 78-77

The Bobcats survive Dartmouth's comeback on opening day

By on November 11, 2017

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team defeated Dartmouth on Saturday in its season opener with a last-second stop to win 78-77.

Megan Lowe | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
After leading by as many as 16 points, Dartmouth had the ball with 2.7 seconds left and a chance to steal a season-opening win on the road. Big Green senior Miles Wright drove to the right block, but a combined defensive effort from senior guard Cameron Young and senior center Chaise Daniels forced Dartmouth into a poor shot attempt that Daniels blocked to seal the Bobcat win.

Quinnipiac starts the season and head coach Baker Dunleavy’s tenure on a winning note.

“You imagine all the possibilities (of your first game), but you hope you can pull away and not have those close situations,” Dunleavy said. “But for the first game of the year, it’s easy to say (that) if you win the close game and now have those situational experiences under our belt.”

Quinnipiac came out of the gates rolling, holding the lead for the majority of the first half and holding a 42-33 lead at halftime.

Graduate student guard Isaiah Washington, a transfer from Penn State, scored 11 points in the first half, including three three-pointers.

Daniels, who was the presumed Bobcat offensive weapon going into the season, struggled offensively in the first half. He scored eight points, but shot just 3-for-9 from the field and picked up two fouls.

“(Junior forward) Abdulai Bundu came in and gave us a spark (in the first half),” Dunleavy said. “We went on a pretty big run with [Bundu] on the floor. Chaise is our guy, but we have good enough players on this team, so that when he’s off the floor we can still excel.”

Megan Lowe | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Off the bench, Bundu chipped three blocks to go along with six points and six rebounds. Freshman guard Jacob Rigoni was also important off the bench, as he scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds.

Freshman point guard Rich Kelly started the game for Quinnipiac, and responded with 11 points and nine assists in a team-leading 35 minutes.

“We’re practicing every day, so I realize how good everyone out there is and how they can make shots if I get them the ball where they’re comfortable,” Kelly said. “I just know that when I’m (driving into) the lane, the guys around me can make shots.”

In the second half, the Bobcats came out on fire again. They extended the lead to 53-37 with 16:14 to play, and appeared to be putting the game out of reach.

But then the Big Green turned the tables and were able to go on a 16-2 run to close the Bobcat lead to 55-53.

“[Keeping the attitude positive] is not something you can do in the huddle,” Dunleavy said. “It’s something we talk about every day. We would’ve loved for it to be a 4-0 run instead of a [16-2] run, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We have to learn to keep ourselves going, regardless of the scoreboard.”

Megan Lowe | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
To close the game, Quinnipiac repeatedly gave Daniels the ball in the post. He responded in the second half, scoring 13 points to bring his final total to 21. Daniels was 5-for-6 from the free throw line in the second half and hit a number of key shots down the stretch.

“Chaise has great experience in big games,” Dunleavy said. “I certainly don’t think he’s rattled to have the ball in his hands. After a tough start, he still ended up 7-for-14 from the field.”

In a tie game with 4.3 seconds left, Kelly drove to the hoop and got fouled. He hit one of two free throws to set up Dartmouth’s hectic final possession which ended in a Bobcat win in front of a rowdy home crowd.

“You want to play and win (for the crowd), but ultimately it comes down to who wears Quinnipiac on their chest,” Daniels said. “We’re playing for each other.”

Looking ahead, Quinnipiac will host its second-straight Ivy League opponent on Monday night at 7 p.m. when Brown comes to Hamden.

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About Logan Reardon

Associate Sports Editor