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Brown defense, missed free throws doom Quinnipiac men’s basketball

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Ryan Chichester

The game plan for Brown was clear heading into Hamden. After shooting 40 free throws in their win against Johnson & Wales, Bears head coach Mike Martin stressed his young team’s identity of drawing fouls and capitalizing at the free throw line.

Quinnipiac held Brown to 27 free throw attempts, who made 19 of them for a pedestrian 70 percent night at the charity stripe. It was enough to neutralize the focus of Brown’s offensive attack.

The only problem for Quinnipiac was an inability to make its own free throws, as the Bobcats made just 13 of their 27 free throw attempts and fell to Brown 79-72 on Monday night.

“It’s frustrating,” Quinnipiac head coach Baker Dunleavy said. “You’re going to have nights when you miss free throws, and we’ll work on that.”

After shooting 53.3 percent from the free throw line in the first half, the Bobcats needed a better effort to erase the 10-point deficit they faced heading into the second half. Instead, they shot 41.7 percent in the second half as their comeback attempt was disrupted by missed shots at the foul line and quick counter buckets by Brown.

Brown didn’t have their best night at the free throw line, but their most reliable shooter did the job as sophomore Brandon Anderson made 10 of his 13 free throws, leading to a game-high 34-point effort. Anderson is now 26-for-30 from the foul line in just two games this season.

When the Bobcats weren’t struggling at the foul line, they were having a hard time taking care of the basketball, committing 12 turnovers in the first half. Freshman Rich Kelly committed four in the first half before settling down in the second.

The Bears opened up the second half on a 14-5 run to stretch their lead to 19, and were coasting to a road win as they still held a 12-point lead with just under five minutes to go.

Then, perhaps a bit too late, the Bobcats got going.

Andrew Robinson drilled a pair of three-pointers, Kelly settled down to hit a three of his own, and Chaise Daniels woke up after a slow first half to help the Bobcats trim their deficit to six after a layup by Daniels, who had an opportunity at the free throw line to finish a three-point play and narrow the Bears’ lead to five with 1:48 remaining in the game.

Daniels’ free throw attempt clanged off the back iron, and the Bobcats never recovered.

Brown converted on their free throws in the final two minutes to avoid a second half collapse and move to 2-0 on the season. They now have an 8-2 edge over Quinnipiac in their all-time series.

“I was proud of how we fought back at the end,” Dunleavy said. “You don’t want to put yourself in those situations, but our guys put forth a valiant effort there.”

The Bobcats showed their youthful growing pains and exciting potential all in one half. Despite the slow start, Daniels finished with a team-high 18 points while shooting 7-for-10 from the field despite a heavy dose of double teams from the Brown defense.

“In the second half I felt more like myself, I was more alive,” Daniels said. “My presence was felt in the second half. The first half it wasn’t there.”

With every big bucket to draw the Bobcats closer, the Bears responded quickly to silence the home crowd.

With the Bobcats trailing by 13 with just under eight minutes remaining in the second half, Daniels flexed his way to the rim for a layup, only to have Brown freshman Tamenang Choh blow past Daniels on the baseline at the other end for a reverse layup. Robinson drilled one of his three triples on the next Bobcats possession, but Brown responded with a quick running floater from Desmond Cambridge to maintain momentum.

Despite the late comeback to make things interesting, the Bears held the lead from the first bucket of the game to the final whistle.

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