Chaise Daniels and Donovan Smith projected to solidify Quinnipiac’s frontcourt after losing Ousmane Drame and Justin Harris to graduation last spring.
However, the sophomore and junior were anything but solid Friday evening as the Bobcats fell to their old NEC rival Sacred Heart 76-64 in the middle game of the Connecticut 6. The duo were responsible for 12 of Quinnipiac’s 21 turnovers on the evening.
“We didn’t get the message across to them clearly enough,” head coach Tom Moore said of in-game adjustments to help with the turnovers. “I thought a couple of times in timeouts we were trying to get it across clearly enough, but we obviously didn’t emphasize it enough and work on it enough in advance.”
Sacred Heart picked off the Bobcats 15 times, turning those opportunities into 21 points off turnovers. The Pioneers attacked the Quinnipiac forwards relentlessly, using the Bobcats’ size against them.
“We knew that they were going to go to their bigs,” Sacred Heart guard Cane Broome said of Quinnipiac. “They run a play where they do a high-low, so we kept seeing that the bigs don’t go out hard, so we just kept jumping the play and getting steals.”
Broome led all scorers with 27 points, a new career high for the rising NEC star. The sophomore accounted for four of Sacred Heart’s steals and added six rebounds. Broome was named to the preseason All-NEC team and was an NEC All-Rookie team member last season.
Quinnipiac had success pressuring Sacred Heart’s smaller frontcourt, even causing two of the Pioneers’ forwards – Filip Nowicki and Jermaine Ukaegbu – to foul out with over seven minutes left in the half. Still, the Bobcats could not take advantage of the size discrepancy.
“We knew that the way we were going to lose this game is if they killed us on the glass and if they fouled us out,” Sacred Heart head coach Anthony Latina said. “Well they did kill us on the glass and they fouled us out, but we just played a little better in our areas to hold on for the win.”
Quincy McKnight added 13 points for the Pioneers while Jordan Allen and Eyimofe Edukugho helped round out the scoring with 11 apiece.
Junior College transfer Daniel Harris led the Bobcats with 13 points, shooting 4-of-9 from beyond the arc in his Quinnipiac debut. Senior guard James Ford posted 11 points along with nine rebounds while Dimitri Floras rounded out the scoring with 10. Giovanni McLean, who was ineligible all of last season, was suspended for the season opener.
Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.