Game #9-002: Quinnipiac vs. Hartford HawksNovember 10, 2012 3:00 pm
, my first game was at Chase Family Arena and featured the Hartford Hawks. So it was only appropriate that the start of #TMM9
would have me begin with the Hawks once again.
I remember the somewhat apathetic crowd -- officially 980 -- that watched that game in January. Hartford was in the midst of clawing its way out of an 0-13 hole to start last season. It would finish the campaign with a 9-9 stretch and put some scares into the America East tournament, but the pains of the nonconference schedule could be felt. But this was a new season, back to 0-0, with the struggles that crushed the Hawks' 2011-12 erased from the ledger.
Walking into the arena, the first thing I noticed was a healthier crowd. The student section was a little lacking approaching game time...
... but even it filled in before the tip. An announced attendance of 3,186 (generous to say the least, but sure, why not) watched as Hartford faced Quinnipiac in the Connecticut 6. Perhaps it's a trend of college teams that don't play American-style football, but this could be the first game that the general public is paying attention to -- no offense to the college volleyball and soccer fans of the world.
The Hawks were picked as the worst of the six teams in this event, while the Bobcats were ranked No. 1. No rooting involved, but I was just hoping for a competitive game -- without realizing what I was asking for as the day went on.
The back-and-forth nature of the game persisted through the first half, with the teams trading the lead six times and neither team taking more than a five-point advantage. I appreciated the clinical post moves by the Hawks' Mark Nwakamma and Nate Sikma, but the Bobcats were the ones dominating the paint, scoring 22 points inside in each half. (Hartford finished with 22 points in the paint for the game.)
It's natural for the energy to ebb and flow during the course of a game, for fans and players to settle into a rhythm over the course of the 40 minutes and naturally become subdued at times. The refs caused some lethargy during the first half as well, calling 28 fouls in the first 20 minutes, putting both teams into the double bonus at the 8:07 mark of the first and sending any and everyone to the free throw line again and again. Subpar shooting from the line didn't help, as the teams combined to make 53 percent of their attempts from the charity stripe in the first half.
When the first half horn sounded, Hartford led Quinnipiac 32-29.
Coming out of the break, the Hawks and their fans were the ones with energy, pulling ahead by as much as six. I began to think that we were going to see Hartford's first win in this four-year-old event.
QUINNIPIAC 65, HARTFORD 61
The Bobcats fought back, though, taking the lead for good at 53-51 with 5:19 remaining. Hartford didn't let Quinnipiac pull away, hanging within a couple possessions throughout. Finally, the Bobcats broke the Hawks' full-court press with just second remaining and a two-point lead, Kendrick Ray put in an easy layup, and the Hartford students led the crowd to the exits.
A bit scarier than expected, but the Quinnipiac players and student section were able to celebrate a 65-61 win.
And so the universe stayed on its planned course, with the Bobcats going to 1-0 and the Hawks dropping their first game of the season for the ninth straight year. Hartford hopes that, unlike 2011, it won't have to wait until the new year to get into the win column. Upcoming games with Mount St. Mary's and Sacred Heart, among others, will provide opportunities against competition rated below Quinnipiac
. Howie still believes.
QUINNIPIAC 1-0 (0-0) -- D. Johnson 1-4 4-4 6; G. Young 5-10 3-4 15; I. Azotam 8-15 1-3 17; Z. Hearst 0-6 0-0 0; K. Ray 3-7 2-2 8; O. Drame 2-3 2-4 6; J. Jackson 4-6 1-2 9; E. Conti 0-2 0-0 0; J. Harris 2-3 0-4 4. Totals 25-56 13-23 65.
HARTFORD 0-1 (0-0) -- Y. Moore II 4-11 0-0 9; N. Sikma 4-7 1-2 11; J. Peterson 2-6 0-0 5; M. Nwakamma 6-15 3-8 15; O. Faulk 0-1 7-8 7; E. Cooper 1-2 2-2 4; J. Schneck 2-3 2-5 6; C. Wroe 1-2 0-0 2; W. Cole 1-5 0-0 2; P. U'u 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-53 15-25 61.
Three-point goals: QUIN 2-9 (D. Johnson 0-1; G. Young 2-4; Z. Hearst 0-1; K. Ray 0-3), HART 4-15 (J. Peterson 1-3; W. Cole 0-3; M. Nwakamma 0-1; Y. Moore 1-3; N. Sikma 2-3; E. Cooper 0-1; P. U'u 0-1); Rebounds: QUIN 40 (I. Azotam 9), HART 30 (N. Sikma 9); Assists: QUIN 9 (D. Johnson 5), HART 9 (Y. Moore 3); Total Fouls -- QUIN 24, HART 25; Fouled Out: QUIN-Z. Hearst; HART-M. Nwakamma.