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Quinnipiac vs. Drexel: what we learned

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Ryan Chichester

Another tough defeat on the road spoiled Baker Dunleavy’s return to Philadelphia.

A 72-71 loss to Drexel after Kurk Lee’s three-pointer with 2.4 seconds left gave the Dragons the win, and another learning experience for the Bobcats.

Rich Kelly found a decent look at a three in the final two seconds thanks to a creative inbounds play by Dunleavy, but the shot hit off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

The Bobcats held the Dragons to a 39-percent night from the field despite playing with an eight-man rotation, which dwindled to seven after early foul trouble for Alain Chigha. However, the Bobcats had their own shooting troubles for the second straight game, shooting just 28-percent from three, including 3-of-11 from downtown in the second half. Cameron Young tried to get the offense in rhythm with his game-high 24 points, but the Bobcats came up one basket short of a win.

Here is what we learned from another close loss:

Bobcats once again “oh-so-close”

In what has become a painful narrative, the Bobcats couldn’t finish on a game that came down to the final possession. Monday night’s loss was almost a carbon copy of Quinnipiac’s loss at Hartford prior to finals week, and it’s tough to forget Colorado’s buzzer-beater to shock Quinnipiac in the Paradise Jam. The Bobcats have now played in six games this year that have been decided by two points or less.

“It’s an all too common theme for us,” Baker Dunleavy said after the loss. “We’re just not quite there. Just one play short.”

The Bobcats are indeed just one play short.

The team executed well down the stretch of the second half, mainly off the effort of Cameron Young. He nailed a big three out of a timeout to keep the Bobcats alive, and eventually hit a pair of free throws to give his team the lead.

But it just wasn’t enough as Lee drilled a clutch triple in the waning seconds of the game to give the Bobcats another dose of heartbreak.

Still, the Bobcats’ 3-8 record seems like an unfair assessment of their season at this point. Almost every winning season requires some sort of luck and good fortune, and the Bobcats seem to have very little of it right now. Despite the lack of results, they continue to be in a position to win at the end of games, which Dunleavy sees as a sign of things to come.

“Eventually it’s going to break for us,” Dunleavy said. “I truly believe that. The results may come next year, or in two years, or next week. We just don’t know. But I can tell by looking in the guys’ eyes in the locker room that we’re not quitting.”

Bundu proves to be a worthy replacement

Dunleavy’s first game back in the Philadelphia area normally would have been the main storyline for Monday’s game, but the real question was how the Bobcats would perform in their first game without Chaise Daniels.

His replacement Abdulai Bundu silenced those worries in a hurry on Monday night.

The junior scored six quick points to start the first half and give the Bobcats an early 11-4 lead. Bundu would finish 6-for-9 from the floor and had his usual perfect night at the free throw line, hitting all five of his foul shots which added up to a season-high 17 points in his first start of the year.

“He’s a warrior,” Dunleavy said of his new starter. “He embodies what we want to be. We put a lot on his shoulders.”

Bundu was able to shoulder the weight that was put on him and grab a team-high six rebounds. Yet the Dragons, one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the CAA, finished the night with a 46-28 advantage on the glass. Having Chigha for just nine minutes hurt the Bobcats on the boards, and Bundu did all he could to keep the game within constant reach.

“I was feeling confident,” Bundu said. “My goal is to bring energy and to just go as hard as possible.”

Dunleavy did offer an update on Daniels, who continues to go to class and use the practice facilities to stay in shape until he feels ready to return to the court.

“He has our team’s full support,” Dunleavy said of his absent senior. “It’s not about suspension or being kicked off the team. It’s about an immense amount of stress that I think time away can really help him be ready for when he comes back. Whether it’s next game or three games from now, I’m not thinking about it that way.”

Until Daniels is mentally refreshed and ready to return, Bundu will have to keep the energy high and be the team’s main presence beneath the rim once MAAC play starts next week.

 

 

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