Basketball aims for .500 against Brown
By Zach Smart
NOTES: In both victories this season, late-game resiliency has been the headline for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac outlasted Lehigh, 92-88, in biting-cold Bethlehem, Pa last week.
After finally stamping his imprint on a game—as he turned in a dragon-slayer, 25-point performance in a 78-70 loss to New Hampshire—Evann Baker showed he was every ounce of the heavily-pursued recruit QU will groom him as at Lehigh.
Baker scored 16 points, but the real story was another freshman, forward Ed Zajac. Zajac’s coming-out party featured a 17-point, 15-board night that saw him assert himself in the paint and connect on many putbacks. Guards Casey Cosgrove and Bryan Geffen both hit timely three-pointers and freshman forward/center Justin Rutty scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting while snaring six caroms. Six of the Bobcats’ nine players reached double-figures in the Lehigh game, and it was the most coach Tom Moore could have asked of his young guns—especially with stalwart senior DeMario Anderson being swarmed by defenders.
Brown enters tonight’s contest having won two of their last three. Though they were defeated by Wagner, the Bears scored a signature victory over Northwestern, 73-67. It was their first win against a top-notch opponent since the Glen Miller-era. The Bears are led by All-Ivy selection Mark McAndrew, a senior guard and homegrown product (Barrington, R.I., right up the road from Brown’s campus) who’s averaging 16.3 points per game. The Bobcats must place strong emphasis on sealing the perimeter, something they failed to due in a home loss to Maine. McAndrew is shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc this season (15-for-30), and blistered Eastern Michigan and Northwestern with his hot hand.
Brown swingman Chris Skrelja has come into his own this season. After a see-saw sophomore year off the bench, Skrelja became an instant lynchpin in the starting lineup while emerging as a sublime all-around player. He can shoot. He can get to the cup and the free-throw line. He can create offense (eight assists in the Bears’ win at Eastern Michigan). The 6-5 junior is averaging 18 points over the last two games, posting a 15-point, six-rebound showing in Saturday’s win over UC-Davis.
When We Last Left Off: The two teams last met at the Burt Kahn Court in January of 2006, a snooze-show 64-60 loss that saw five of then-senior Craig Benson’s threes rim in-and-out in the first half. Benson led the Bobcats with 21 points. Scott Friske, then a freshman, blitzed Quinnipiac in the paint, scoring a career-high 26 points. The Bobcats shot an abysmal 8-of-31 from downtown as they relinquished an early lead.