Chaise Daniels steps up late as Baker Dunleavy wins head coaching debut

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Dylan Fearon

Chaise Daniels knew he would have to put his team on his shoulders late in games this season.

Think about it. Just 10 wins last year and the Bobcats two best players transfer out. A lot is going to fall on the senior big man.

But Saturday he showed he’s ready.

“Something we’ve been talking about (regarding) Chaise is that he’s got great talent,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “Great character. He’s super competitive. Chaise is our guy.”

With the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team up 78-77 with just 1.9 seconds to go against Dartmouth, Daniels proved he’s ready to take on a big responsibility, blocking Miles Wright as time expired to clinch victory in a thrilling season opener.

 

Daniels didn’t get off to a great start, beginning the game just one-for-six from the field. But when Dunleavy needed his big man the most, he came through. Big time.

“Ultimately it comes down to whoever is wearing this Quinnipiac across their chest, you know,” Daniels said. “We’re playing for each other and our coaches and we just wanted to execute at the end.”

Daniels showed his ability for most of the second half. Hook shots from just inside the free throw line. Clutch free-throw shooting. Spin moves in the posts.

He used everything in his repertoire.

“Chaise is great and has experience in big games,” Dunleavy said. “After a tough start he ends up 7-for-14 from the field. We can’t (go to him inside late) if he doesn’t work as hard as he does at the foul line. He comes in every morning and gets his free throws in at 7 a.m. That confidence that he earned paid off today.”

Quinnipiac’s newcomers also stepped up in what was a full-team effort by the Bobcats.

Isaiah Washington, a graduate transfer, kick-started that effort.  Washington notched three three-pointers in the first half, finishing with 18 points. He also found success driving to the rim in the first half and had the left hand working.

Freshman Rich Kelly was Dunleavy’s primary ball handler, and he didn’t disappoint, showing off his aggressiveness early. Whether it was being physical in the lane or driving and dishing. Kelly was everywhere, finishing with 11 points and nine assists in his collegiate debut.

“We had the ball in his hands at the end of the game and we just trusted his decision-making,” Dunleavy said. “We were proud of him at the end, just being physical offensively with his drives. I think like a lot of our guys, just guarding the ball, he’s got a lot to learn. I’m testing him with those minutes. It’s just something he’s going to have to adapt to.”

“We’re playing every day and practicing every day, so I realize how good everyone out there is and how they can make shots when I get them the ball where they’re comfortable,” Kelly said. “I just know when I’m getting in the lane, guys are capable of making of shots, so I’m looking to do that.”

It’s Quinnipiac’s first season-opening victory since the 2014-15 season, when the Bobcats defeated Yale in double overtime. Dunleavy has one more battle against the Ivy League this season, and it’s Monday night against Brown.

Daniels is ready for the challenge.

“Coach harps on attitude,” Daniels said. “How are you going to react when you dribble the ball off your foot, turn it over, no matter what? How are you going to respond the next play? I know that I have to keep playing for my teammates.”

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