Quinnipiac Bobcats outplayed, outsized by the Niagara Purple Eagles

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Quinnipiac Bobcats outplayed, outsized by the Niagara Purple Eagles

Gabbi Riggi and Josh Silverman

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The Quinnipiac Bobcats entered the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament at No. 8, matched up against No. 9  Niagara Purple Eagles, the Bobcats were looking for their first tournament win since beating the Purple Eagles in the 2014 MAAC Tournament.

The 88-69 loss that found Quinnipiac knocked out of the tournament saw a turbulent first half. After a back-and-forth start, the Bobcats found themselves down two, which felt like wasted effort to Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore.

“We’ve been preaching defense trying to get defensively back and any level of consistency, the toughness defensively back the last two or three weeks,” Moore said. “To hold them to 34 percent and hold (Khalill) Dukes to 1-for-10. It just felt like being down two at halftime like we had wasted a good defensive effort in the first half.”

Fast-forward to 9:18 remaining in the second half, when the game started to get away from Quinnipiac. The Bobcats had the Purple Eagles in a good place trailing by three, with the score at 56-53.

Quinnipiac’s defense, which had been stingy all game, made Niagara forward James Town chuck up a shot with seconds remaining on the shot clock. A defensive rebound by Quinnipiac could have tied the game, or at the worst kept Quinnipiac trailing by three.

However, Quinnipiac’s inability to rebound came back to haunt them as it did all game.

Matt Scott, a Niagara guard, got the rebound and passed it back to Towns. Towns took advantage this time to give the Eagles the 59-53 lead. With 8:54 still remaining in the game it wasn’t time for Tom Moore’s squad to panic. Just down six in a game with 12 lead changes, Quinnipiac was still in it.

Quinnipiac sophomore guard Andrew Robinson had the shot he wanted on the next possession, however wasn’t able to connect, keeping it 59-53. Niagara’s next possession led to two points and it was the beginning of the end. Tom Moore called a timeout to try to gather his team, but it didn’t make a difference.

“It was the beginning of the stretch where we able to build a lead, which is always important,” Niagara head coach Chris Casey said. “You want to play from in front and then make them catch you. I thought that was the beginning of that stretch. What we really did a good job of was getting stops and getting out of transition getting us some easy baskets and getting to the foul line.”

The Purple Eagles went on a 27- 16 run to end the game and the season for the Bobcats.

Although that possession highlighted Quinnipiac’s collapse, there were two major issues that were prominent throughout the game: Alan Chigha’s foul trouble and Quinnipaic’s inability to rebound.

Quinnipiac was out-rebounded 44-32 in the game. Quinnipiac wasn’t able to overcome the loss of Donovan Smith, Quinnipiac’s senior forward, who was injured earlier in the season.

The second issue was Alan Chigha’s foul trouble. Chigha picked up his fourth foul with 10:17 remaining in the game. At the time Quinnipiac was trailing by only five, however when he subbed back in Quinnipiac was trailing by 13.

Although Quinnipiac has a bright future with freshman Peter Kiss and Mikey Dixon, questions may still linger in the offseason about the future of head coach Tom Moore.