Quinnipiac took a two point lead with about 30 seconds to go, Kyle Vinales held the ball close to half court while the clocked ticked to under ten seconds. It looked as if Vinales would drive to tie the game, but he didn’t. The defense gave him enough room to pop and shoot. I think the crowd went silent. SPLASH! They erupted. Joe Efese hugged Vinales at half court as the sophomore guard soaked in the reaction from his fellow students.
This was not the biggest or best game of Vinales’ career statistically, but it was easily the most exciting. At the half, Vinales had only five points and it was looking like it was going to be a tough night on the boards versus the second leading rebounding team in the country. Numerous times Quinnipiac would miss a layup, but then get three or four chances to put it back. The Bobcats grabbed 21 offensive rebounds and scored 13 second chance points.
I predicted before the game that Quinnipiac would out-rebound Central by 20 and Ike Azotam would have 18 himself, let’s see how close I was…
QU 47, CCSU 35 = 12
Ike Azotam – 6
So I was wrong, but I am glad I was wrong. Almost every time Azotam touched the ball on the offensive side, he was double-teamed. That’s the only way to stop a beast like him down low. Zaid Hearst was the guy who could have killed the Blue Devils tonight. He shot 6-11 for 17 points and as the Bobcats inbounded with 5.6 seconds left for a shot to tie or win, I knew he had to be tightly guarded.
Evan Conti drove the length of the court, but his runner came up short as time expired giving CCSU their eighth Northeast Conference victory of the season, thus clinching a spot in the conference tournament. I have no idea who holds the tiebreakers and all that stuff, but the Blue Devils won in dramatic fashion tonight and that’s all that matters.
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