Sacred Heart upstages Quinnipiac in home-finale
By Michael T. Lyle, Jr.
February 23, 2008
HAMDEN — The outcome of this afternoon’s matchup between Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart was much different than the Bobcats’ tough one-point loss to the Pioneers late last month in Fairfield.
Quinnipiac’s 88-74 drubbing by their other Northeast Conference rivals on “Senior Day” at TD Banknorth Sports Center can be attributed to a couple of key statistics, such as 21 Bobcat turnovers Sacred Heart scored 19 points off of.
Another is the lack of attention Quinnipiac gave to Sacred Heart guard Ryan Litke. He, and not star guard Drew Shubik, was the catalyst for the Pioneers, scoring 13 of his 17 points in the second half, including a big three-pointer with 6:40 left that sent the 2,888 angry fans in attendance dashing for the exits.
“Obviously, I was tremendously disappointed with our second-half play,” said Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore. “Our body language was tough in the first half, but not in the second. (Sacred Heart) played like their four-senior championship game from last season, and the experience showed.”
And with two tough road games left on the campaign, perhaps the Bobcats may have played their last home game in the first season of the Tom Moore era. Quinnipiac (14-13, 10-6 Northeast) currently owns the fourth seed in the NEC, a game and a half up on Central Connecticut. In order for the Bobcats to hold onto that spot, which gives them homecourt advantage in the opening-round of the NEC Tournament, they’ll have to put together strong performances at Central next Thursday and then on Saturday in the regular-season finale at Wagner.
When asked if he feels his team has enough to make a run at both games, Moore says its possible.
“If we practice a little better next week, we’ll have a chance,” he said.
DeMario Anderson, who returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game against Monmouth because of a family emergency, led all scorers with 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. However, the Pioneers got a well-balanced offensive attack to place five players, including Litke, in double-figures. Chauncey Hardy also added 17 points for Sacred Heart (16-11, 13-3), with Brice Brooks and Gene Pettway contributed 13 and 12, respectively. Shubik was held to just 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting.
Brian Geffen scored 12 points for the Bobcats while James Feldeine added 10.
“This game was just as important as any other game we’ve played in the conference this season,” said Sacred Heart head coach Dave Bike. “We happened to catch fire in the second half and was able to put the ball in the basket. We’re just trying to get better at what we do.”
After a tightly-played first half that featured three lead changes and three ties, the Pioneers, fueled by a pair of breakaway dunks off steals from Chauncey Hardy, scored eight consecutive points to turn a 38-36 halftime deficit into a 44-39 lead, 18:19 into the final period.
But DeMario helped the Bobcats answer by knocking down a three-pointer, then scoring on a fadeaway jumper to tie it at 44 with a little over 16 minutes remaining. The game became a see-saw contest for the next three minutes before Litke and the Pioneers put together an offensive fury to put it out of reach. His three-pointer at the 10:14 mark gave Sacred Heart a 54-52 lead, followed by a three-point play by Shubik which stretched the lead to 58-54. Another three pointer by Brice Brooks with 8:10 left, then the dagger shot by Litke capped a somber afternoon for Quinnipiac as they said goodbye to three seniors honored during pregame ceremonies, including DeMario.
Aside from the turnovers, the Bobcats did just about everything right in trying to avenge their January 26 loss to the Sacred Heart. They shot 56 percent from the field, and converted 14 of their 20 free throw attempts. Quinnipiac also held the Pioneers to shooting 48 percent for the game.
Yet, the Bobcats were bitten by the “turnover bug” again, and this time, they couldn’t recover.
“They’re very intelligent and really well-coached offensively,” said Moore of Sacred Heart, who committed a mere nine turnovers. “They don’t get rattled too much on offense. I think we just ran out of will in the second half.”
For the Bobcats, fortunately, there remains a will, and after today’s embarrassing loss, the Bobcats need that, along with a collective effort to try and knock off two of the conferences top teams next week.
NOTES: DeMario has scored 987 points in his career at Quinnipiac. He needs to score 13 points in one of the final two games to reach the 1,000 milestone. Combining his career statistics from Central Connecticut and Quinnipiac, DeMario has now scored 1,578 points during his tenure in the Northeast Conference.