On Wednesday night, the Hartford Hawks came the closest to winning a game since the loss of double-double man, John Carroll. A home game against fellow Connecticut residents, the Quinnipiac Bobcats, was a great way to prove they can move on and become more than their injuries.
Everything was down to the wire. The Hawks needed a bucket to tie and a trey to win. Unfortunately their layup play didn't go as planned, and a pass out beyond the arc missed the shot. They once again, walked off the court with a loss.
Coach John Gallagher said it the best about his team's performance: "I'm proud, but I'm not satisfied. I'm proud of the effort in the second half, not satisfied that it wasn't 40 minutes."
Hartford came out to a sluggish start, with Quinnipiac scoring seven points before J.R. Lynch hit a 3-pointer at the 17:19 mark. Not long after that Justin Graham went to the line to shoot three after being fouled in his first 3-point attempt. Unfortunately their luck was going to run out there. Their offense went on to miss layups and even a dunk, as the rims decided it just wasn't Hartford's night.
But if you're a Hartford fan, you know its head coach is always optimistic.
"The flow offensively, the whole time, for us, was really good," he said. "Look, we missed five layups in the first half, Pancake misses a dunk... If you go back and look at the shot selections we missed, there were some unbelievable offensive possessions for us."
The resurgence of the team they had set out to play as didn't emerge until almost halfway through the second half. Normally it's the fans that pump up the team and get things exciting to watch. This time it was the team getting the crowd rallied up. With three consecutive stops, where Evan Cooper capitalized to bring in five points, the Chase Family Arena was livid with cheers for Hartford.
That sparked a good flow for the offense where, after two free throws by George Blagojevic, had their first lead of the night at 61-60. They didn't stay in the lead for very long, as Quinnipiac hit a quick layup, but it was about three and a half minutes of Hartford keeping the lead with only 1:58 left on the clock that made the Hartford faithful feel like this was going to be the win that they deserved.
With under two minutes left, and Hartford up by one, all they needed to do was run the clock. Samuel Dingba was at the line to shoot two after being fouled by Cleveland "Pancake" Thomas. He made the first but missed the second. There was a glimmer of hope, even after Giovanni McClean missed his jumper as the clock was winding down. It was his second attempt that went it that sealed the deal for the Bobcats. James Ford Jr.'s extra free throw point only added salt to the wound as Hartford's final play didn't pan out as expected.
Hartford has a few days to rest up for a New England matchup on Saturday against Holy Cross.