DeMario’s 31 help Bobcats escape
By Michael T. Lyle, Jr.
February 9, 2007
HAMDEN — It wasn’t easy, but last night, the Bobcats continued to show the rest of the Northeast Conference that they’re poised to make a run towards the “Big Dance” next month.
And most important, they’re ready for that much anticipated rematch with Central Connecticut this weekend.
Behind DeMario Anderson’s game-high 31 points, Quinnipiac (11-11, 9-4 NEC) battled to a 79-75 victory over Sacred Heart (11-12, 7-5) before 2,440 at the TD Banknorth SportsCenter. The victory was the Bobcats’ ninth in their last 10, giving them sole possession of second-place in the conference and setting the stage for what will be a critical matchup with the first-place Blue Devils Saturday afternoon.
“The team showed a lot of character and courage”, said Quinnipiac head coach Joe DeSantis. “They played hard and played to win”.
But the night truly belonged to Anderson. Virtually every time he got the ball anytime Quinnipiac found itself in a clutch situation, he came through.
“He said that this is my stage and my game”, said DeSantis of Anderson. “He really wanted to win this one badly”.
Anderson couldn’t have agreed with the coach any better.
“I felt really good today,” said Anderson. “My teammates found me and once they did, I was able to get open looks”.
As has been the case the last few contests, the Bobcats got off to a slow start as the Pioneers quickly raced out to a 5-0 lead before Quinnipiac reeled off seven straight to grab the lead early in the first-half.
At one point midway through the period, the Bobcats were up by nine, but sloppy ball handling and some bad shooting allowed Sacred Heart to climb back into it.
Fueled by consecutive buckets by Frye and a short jumper by Drew Shubik, the Pioneers suddenly had a one-point lead, 24-23, with under six minutes to go.
But Quinnipiac finished the half strong behind Gonzalez’s outside touch. A 3-pointer by Adam, followed by an uncontested lay-in from Dale Meinbresse gave the Bobcats the lead at intermission, 30-28.
This one, though, came down to the wire with both teams trading leads until Anderson’s jumper with 1:03 left put the Bobcats up for good at 75-74. After a pair of free throws by Gonzalez gave the home team some breathing room with less than 30 seconds left and a 77-74 advantage, Sacred Heart’s Jarrid Frye missed a game-tying three-pointer from the top of the key in the final seconds.
A Sacred Heart intentional foul and another converted free throw from Gonzalez moments later, Quinnipiac was on its way to CCSU looking for some payback and feeling good about their chances.
“We’re starting to gel as a team right now” said Gonzalez, who finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. “Anderson showed a lot of people what kind of player he is”.
Frye finished with 18 points and Brice Brooks added 19 for the visitors.
The Blue Devils handled Quinnipiac soundly last Monday in this very same building. Now, the scene shifts to Detrick Gymnasium in rural New Britain, where DeMario and the rest of the Bobcats have a chance for retribution—and a split of the season series.
“I’m really looking forward to that one”, said Anderson. “It’s gonna be fun. We owe them one”.
“They’re a great team” said DeSantis of the key contest. “We know we’re gonna have our hands full”.