I love unexpected pleasant surprises. St. Francis' story this year was certainly one of them. It was a year that was supposed to be a rebuilding year, with a young team. Fast foward to March and they are hosting playoff basketball.
The last time I visited St. Francis was on Valentine's Day by myself a few years ago. Me and a raucous crowd of about twenty five other hardy souls watched the biannual battle of the St. Francis teams. Thank god I wasn't doing recaps back then because it well could have turned into a 50,000 word reevaluation of my life.
Three times is not usually the lucky number when it comes to playing an opponent. Despite the fact that St. Francis had beaten Quinnipiac twice this year the Bobcats came into the game well prepared and ready to win on the road. The Terriers are a team that can heat up from long range and never seem out of any game but they also die by the three. They have three players that shot over 30 percent for the season from behind the arc. Perunicic, in possibly his final game as a Terrier, didn't shoot well and picked up some poor fouls. The game was close early on before Quinnipiac pulled out to a 14 point lead on a run near the end of the first half. The lead stood at 10 by the half.
The Bobcats played good defense, the kind that wins playoff games. The also have a young team but they looked and felt like they had been here before. The Bobcats will be losing their top scorer James Johnson at the end of this season but despite that both teams should make strides next year returning so many players.
The Terriers made some timely hoops in the second half and the crowd stayed positive but never were able to catch the Bobcats before they pulled away again ending St. Francis' dreams of winning the NEC Tournament.
I really like the direction the NEC has been heading in men's basketball. In the last few years we have seen the debut of several new playing facilities and the overall quality of the basketball has gotten better and better. Don't be surprised if the conference represents itself well in the NCAA Tournament.
There's a statue that sits on patch of land in front of Quinnipiac's beautiful new arena facility of a Bobcat. If you rub the statue it is supposed to bring you good luck. Most people walk past and never read the inscription. Let's see how good their luck is going foward.
QUINNIPIAC 80, at SAINT FRANCIS (NY) 72 03/01/2012
QUINNIPIAC 18-12 (10-8) -- T. Greene 3-14 3-6 10; J. Johnson 4-14 12-17 22; I. Azotam 7-16 1-1 15; G. Young 4-9 1-1 9; Z. Hearst 5-11 1-4 14; J. Jackson 2-8 1-5 5; D. Johnson 3-5 1-3 8; O. Drame 1-2 0-0 2; E. Conti 2-2 0-0 5; A. Jackson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-67 17-31 80. SAINT FRANCIS (NY) 15-15 (12-6) -- B. Mockford 5-14 2-5 17; S. Perunicic 3-10 2-2 11; B. Jones 5-15 10-14 21; J. Cannon 1-4 2-5 4; A. Johnson 1-3 1-2 3; T. Nichols 4-6 2-2 12; J. Newton 0-0 0-0 0; M. Milk 1-2 0-0 2; P. Santavenere 1-1 0-0 2; K. Douglas 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-57 19-30 72.
Three-point goals: QUIN 7-15 (D. Johnson 1-1; G. Young 0-2; J. Johnson 2-7; E. Conti 1-1; Z. Hearst 3-4), SFNY 11-28 (S. Perunicic 3-7; B. Mockford 5-12; T. Nichols 2-3; B. Jones 1-4; K. Douglas 0-2); Rebounds: QUIN 42 (I. Azotam 12), SFNY 29 (J. Cannon 11); Assists: QUIN 16 (J. Johnson 6), SFNY 11 (B. Jones 5); Total Fouls -- QUIN 22, SFNY 26; Fouled Out: QUIN-I. Azotam; SFNY-S. Perunicic.