Bobcats start slow, finish strong in rout of St. Francis (PA)
By Michael T. Lyle, Jr.
January 31, 2008
HAMDEN — If there were any questions about whether or not the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team could regain their focus after a tough loss last weekend at Sacred Heart, they were answered with a dominating performance against visiting St. Francis of Pennsylvania.
In a game broadcasted here on WQAQ, and in front of a season-high 2,109 watching on at TD Banknorth Sports Center, the Bobcats (11-9, 7-2 NEC) overcame a sluggish start and put together a decisive 16-1 run late in the second half to knock off the Red Flash (5-16, 3-7 NEC) 73-55. Freshman guard Evann Baker, one of four Quinnipiac players to score in double figures, led the offensive charge with a team-high 17 points.
“I was obviously displeased with our play in the first half, but very pleased in the second,” said Bobcats head coach Tom Moore. “It’s a testament to our guys listening at halftime and coming out and executing our gameplan.”
It took until the 12:08 mark of the second half before the Bobcats did just that, and Baker fueled the outburst by scoring seven of his total points to turn a 41-40 lead into a 51-41 cushion. James Feldeine and Justin Rutty also converted on consecutive baskets to blow it open with 7:16 left, giving Quinnipiac at 57-41 lead.
“We played good defense throughout,” said Moore. “It’s a statement when you can win the second half and beat a team like this by 18.”
Indeed, it was a tale of two-halves, as the Bobcats bounced back from a horrendous 35 percent shooting from the first-half to convert on a sizzling 69.6 in the final half. Another key stat would be that of DeMario Anderson. The senior captain also found his touch in the last 20 minutes, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the period. Rutty added 14 points and Brian Geffen chipped in with 11.
St. Francis center Bassirou Dieng led the visitors with 18 points, but was held in check after scoring 13 in the first half. Cale Nelson contributed with 12.
“The second half was the difference in the game,” said St. Francis head coach Bobby Jones. “Once they made that run, I thought we lost our composure a little bit. We didn’t stop them man-to-man, and I thought (Quinnipiac) and DeMario Anderson asserted themselves during that stretch.”
In the opening minutes, the Bobcats didn’t do much of anything, besides commit a couple of turnovers and missed their first six shots. Once Dieng knocked down an uncontested three-pointer for the game’s first points, Moore quickly called a 30 second time and gave his team an earful.
Whatever the first-year coach told his squad during that break, they responded with some fury, but for a short period of time. A Brian Geffen three tied it at 13-all with 7:37 left in the half, followed by a putback by Rutty seconds later that put the Bobcats up, 19-14.
But St. Francis battled back to take a one-point lead at halftime, 26-25, on buckets by Bassirou and Nelson before Quinnipiac responded with a big second-half to cruise to the win.
NOTE: Senior center Karl Anderson sat out this game with the flu. He’s expected to be back in time for Saturday night’s road contest at Farleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, NJ.