Thursday night -- Sunday, on my wacky work schedule -- and I was off to my second game of the season, part of my quest to visit all seven schools in my new home state of Connecticut. Quinnipiac would be the first mid-major arena I've visited in Connecticut, and the first campus I've been able to visit this season. I was particularly excited about this game for a silly reason: Quinnipiac is one of two other DI schools to share a mascot with my alma mater (Ohio), the other being Montana State.
Often, particularly in larger arenas, I find that the seat assigned to me on my ticket is frankly a rather silly place to spend the game. Typically they sell day-of seats at the box office that are in the rafters of the arena, while 50% or more of the lower level goes unused. I generally make it my duty to serially upgrade into said empty seats, and rarely does anybody make a fuss about it.
When I got to the TD Bank Sports Center and bought my ticket, I noticed my $11 general admission seat was in row four. As it turned out, it was on the sideline, parallel to the basket. Plus, either they put out a couple of rows of chairs for bigger games, or were trying to keep row numbering consistent all around the arena, because there was only one row of seating in front of "row four".
I must say, as I made my way to my seat and took in TD Bank for the first time, I was quite impressed. For a relatively small school, the facility is beautiful. The seats form a smooth, continuous bowl around the playing surface, and nowhere do they rise more than 14 rows from the floor. The only objects that could potentially block the view from a seat were the baskets themselves. Clearly, the QU administration liked the design as much as I did, since they decided to build two of them -- the TD Bank Sports Center has a virtual mirror-image of the court on the opposite side of the lobby, with ice in place of the hardwood.
This was one of those early-season conference games that throws me out of sorts, and tosses the three-part season metaphor right out the window. After two nights of games this week, the Northeast Conference will abandon conference play again for a month.
The game itself was a fairly straightforward affair, with few to no major momentum swings. The teams both started a bit slow, and played closely through the first eight minutes. Sacred Heart took the lead on a #superhoop by Justin Swidowski with 12:54 left in the first half, and would never relinquish it. They built the lead up to as many as 11 in the first half, and while Quinnipiac made a couple runs at it in the second half, I never got the feeling they'd be able to get over the hump. While QU outrebounded Sacred Heart by a significant margin, and took better care of the ball, there was a lid on their basket they didn't have the ability to pop off, and the Bobcats rode their 31% shooting and 45% free throw shooting to an 0-1 conference start, snapping their five-game winning streak against the Pioneers.
SACRED HEART 68, at QUINNIPIAC 55 12/01/2011
SACRED HEART 5-3 (1-0) -- S. Gibson 7-12 4-4 21; C. Evans 2-3 7-11 11; E. Kelley 1-4 2-5 4; F. Akinpetide 5-8 1-2 11; L. Montes 1-4 2-2 4; P. Gaetano 1-5 0-0 3; J. Swidowski 3-8 2-2 9; S. Dulaire 0-1 0-0 0; N. Greenbacker 1-2 0-0 3; S. Glowiak 0-3 2-3 2. Totals 21-50 20-29 68. QUINNIPIAC 2-4 (0-1) -- A. Alecxih 7-16 4-9 18; J. Johnson 5-14 3-4 15; J. Jackson 1-4 1-2 3; D. Johnson 0-8 0-0 0; Z. Hearst 2-6 0-0 5; G. Young 2-6 0-1 5; N. Gause 2-6 0-0 4; M. Barnett 2-3 0-0 4; O. Drame 0-1 0-2 0; A. Jackson 0-3 1-2 1; E. Conti 0-0 0-0 0; T. Bobb-Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-67 9-20 55.
Three-point goals: SH 6-15 (S. Gibson 3-5; N. Greenbacker 1-1; J. Swidowski 1-1; S. Glowiak 0-2; L. Montes 0-2; P. Gaetano 1-4), QUIN 4-15 (D. Johnson 0-1; G. Young 1-3; J. Johnson 2-6; N. Gause 0-2; Z. Hearst 1-2; A. Jackson 0-1); Rebounds: SH 29 (F. Akinpetide 6), QUIN 41 (A. Alecxih 16); Assists: SH 12 (S. Gibson 3), QUIN 13 (D. Johnson 4); Total Fouls -- SH 19, QUIN 23; Fouled Out: SH-J. Swidowski; QUIN-J. Johnson.