ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quinnipiac falls to Sacred Heart

FAIRFIELD — Mired in a dismal stretch the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team always felt it could count on one thing: rebounding.
Though second in the nation in that category, it was their rebounding that failed the Bobcats down the stretch as Sacred Heart pulled out a 78-75 victory in a crucial Northeast Conference game at the Pitt Center Thursday night.

The win capped a season sweep of the Bobcats for the Pioneers, who got a career-high 28 points from Louis Montes and 23 from Shane Gibson, 18 of which came in the second half.
Quinnipiac has lost four of its last five games and fell to 9-9 overall and 2-5 in the NEC, a precarious spot as only the top eight teams in the conference qualify for the postseason tournament. The Bobcats are surprisingly in a three-way tie for eighth place.
“It’s hard losing,” Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said. “I can’t measure the team’s doubt. We had murderous practices and they responded well. It just came down to our second-half defense.
“This group has wins at Vermont, at Boston University and at Robert Morris. There’s great potential there, but it’s infuriating when we look like a young team.”
Dave Johnson led Quinnipiac with 18 points and James Johnson. But James Johnson missed a designed 3-pointer that would have tied the game with 21 seconds left. He finished 2 for 10 from 3-point range in the game and the Bobcats went 4 for 19 behind the arc.
But offense aside, Moore was more concerned with his team’s defense in the second half when Sacred Heart shot 58 percent from the field.
“They made huge plays down the stretch,” Moore said. “But the tale of our NEC play is our defense. We’re not guarding long enough in games and we’re not guarding long enough in possessions.
“We try to play 28 seconds of hard defense and then we stop guarding.”
Quinnipiac led by as much as eight in the first half before Sacred Heart took a six-point lead in the second half. The game was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way.
Montes gave Sacred Heart a 74-71 lead with 2:08 to play. James Johnson cut it to 74-73 with two free throws with 1:39 left. But that’s when their rebounding failed the Bobcats.
Twice Sacred Heart missed shots but both times the Pioneers got the rebound, chewing up valuable time. After the second miss the Bobcats fouled Montes with 31 seconds left and he buried both free throws.
“That’s the best shellacking in rebounding we’ve ever had,” Sacred Heart coach Dave Bike said. “They beat us by 11 but if we didn’t come up with four or five of those rebounds it would have been a different game.
“It started with Stan Dulaire’s rebound and then Nick Greenbacker got one and Phil Gaetano got involved in another one and they all were big. We respect their rebounding but we were able to come up with a couple of big ones.
“If Dulaire doesn’t get that rebound I think the whole game could turn around.”
Gaetano, a freshman from Wallingford, finished with seven points and had a big 3-pointer in the second half for Sacred Heart.
Quinnipiac hit 8 of its first 11 shots but only finished at 40 percent from the floor in the game and once again free throws were a problem. It went 13 for 20 from the line.
Ike Azotam finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for the Bobcats, who got the services of forward Jamee Jackson back. Jackson finished with nine points and eight rebounds after missing seven games with a foot injury.

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