Senior Leadership Leads Comeback in NEC Quarterfinal Victory over FDU
by Peter D’Alauro
HAMDEN, CT- It seems like every Quinnipiac Fairleigh-Dickinson basketball game in the last two years has come down to the wire. At the TD Banknorth Sports Center last night, Rolaids would have provided relief for the Bobcats fans in this see-saw 78-77 Quinnipiac victory. The amazing part of this victory was the adversity the Bobcats faced coming into the game, as well as what they faced during the game, especially in the first half.
The Bobcats played this game without their vocal leader, senior guard Adam Gonzalez. Gonzalez was coming off of a career-high scoring effort in the regular season finale against Sacred Heart on Monday. He netted a career high 37 points and wore a protective sleeve on his right arm. Little did anyone know that the sleeve was covering up a severe infection Gonzalez had from a bug bite, which kept him out of this game vs. FDU. His status for Sunday’s semi-final match up against Sacred Heart is still uncertain.
The Bobcats played a turnover filled first half and allowed Farleigh-Dickinson to shoot 48.6% from the field, and at one time they led the game by 15 points. The season’s leading scorer for FDU, Andre Harris, was true to form in the first half, leading the way with 12 points in the half. For the Bobcats, Chris Wehye, in lieu of Gonzalez’s absence, finished the half with eight points. The score stood in favor of Farleigh Dickinson, 42-34, and the Bobcats could see the end of their season nearing.
However, the second half was another story altogether for Quinnipiac, and the comeback was lead by an unexpected source. Senior guard Van Crafton stepped up big for the Bobcats with 12 straight points for Quinnipiac in the second half, and 23 overall. During that 12 point barrage, the Bobcats captured their first lead of the second half. This was key for them because All-NEC forward DeMario Anderson was relegated to the bench with four fouls. “Coach recruited me to be a shooter” Crafton said. “My teammates found me open, we ran a couple of plays for me and I did my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”
The end of the game was absolutely exhilarating, as freshman point guard Casey Cosgrove nailed a corner three to break the 73 all tie with 59 seconds remaining. “We work on that play every day in practice,” said coach Joe DeSantis.
Yet, it was Van Crafton who came up the biggest in the clutch for the Bobcats. With 5.9 to go, he was fouled on a jump shot attempt and calmly nailed both free throws to give Quinnipiac the lead for good. The final sequence of the game went along with the frenetic pace throughout the entire game. Michael Peeples ran up the floor for FDU and nearly converted a breakaway game winning lay-up. However he was moving too fast and his running shot hit the bottom of the rim and the buzzer sounded on FDU’s season.
FDU coach Tom Green had this to say about the game. “Too much Van Crafton for us. He had a great ball game, came up some really big 3s and made those big free throws down the stretch.”
In what was arguably a bench-mark victory in the coaching career of Joe DeSantis, he summed everything up in this way. “This is my 11th year as coach and I’ve never been more proud of my team,” Quinnipiac coach Joe DeSantis said. It’s fair to say the Bobcat fans should also feel proud of their team. Quinnipiac takes on Sacred Heart on Sunday in the NEC Semifinal, in a re-match of the regular season finale.