Men’s Basketball

James Johnson notches 28 points over Robert Morris

By Angelique Fiske, QBSN Publishing Editor

February 26, 2012

The all too familiar sight of Velton Jones handling the ball in the last moments of a Quinnipiac (17-12, 10-8 NEC) and Robert Morris (22-9, 13-5 NEC) face-off has temporarily disappeared from the minds of Bobcat fans as the home team defeated the Colonials, 73-69.

The matinee at Lender Court of the TD Bank Sports Center proved yet again why this matchup is always one of the most highly anticipated games of the season.  The emphasis on this game was even more stressed, as it happened to coincide with the Bobcats’ Senior Day.  Senior James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.)  put up 28 points in the victory which very well could be his last in Hamden.

“We’ve had a lot of good players in my short time here, but he cherishes this program, this arena, what we stand for as much as anyone that’s ever played here,” head coach Tom Moore said.

In mirrored performances, James Johnson and Jones both opened up the first half by putting four points on the board for his respective team – a three-pointer and one free throw.  Jones donned “his Superman cape,” according to Moore and walked away with the point edge on the day, leading all scorers with 29.

“He’s going to give it 110 [percent], and I’m going to give it 110,” Johnson said.  “I’m lucky my team came out on top today.”

Despite starting four points in the hole, the Bobcats took the lead on the back of six consecutive Johnson scores, and by the time five minutes passed in the half, Quinnipiac had the lead that they wouldn’t surrender until Mike McFadden of Robert Morris hit a buzzer beating lay-up to end the half tied up, 38-38.  The biggest lead of the game for Quinnipiac was the 10-point advantage it held in the first, while Robert Morris could only manage a four-point edge in the game’s opening minutes.

The second half exemplified the intensity of such a rivalry, neither team holding too far of a lead over the other.  The final minute of the game drove the stands to the electric reactions expected for a game featured on ESPNU.  While never giving in, Quinnipiac felt the offensive pressure Robert Morris inflicted.

While in déjà vu like instances, Jones would be on the line as the clock dwindled, this time it was a foul on James Johnson by Jones that sent the latter to the charity stripe. As the crowd anxiously hoped that its senior leader could widen gap more than the two-point difference as the scoreboard read 71-69.  James Johnson, however, missed both free throw attempts.

Just four seconds later, Johnson was sent to the line again, this time sinking both attempts, dashing any hope for a Robert Morris comeback.

While Johnson put together a fitting performance for the Senior Day festivities, freshman Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) and junior Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) provided Quinnipiac with solid performances.  Drame notched 12 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes played, while Young had 11 points coming off the bench in 30 minutes played.

“I thought Garvey Young in the second half gave us a really nice boost.  He had some big plays,” Moore said.  “I think he’s the best sixth man probably in the league.”

While Young provided depth in the reserves, Moore emphasized Drame’s role in this game as player development.

“He’s played in this game, he’s experienced this game because he needs to get his butt kicked physically as many times by hungry, tough guys,” Moore said.  “He doesn’t grow as much on a win Thursday night when we’re up by 30 points and a couple of baskets come easy.”

Whether it’s in terms of growing freshman or the playoffs that are just around the corner, the Bobcats have their eyes looking only one direction – forward.  They kick-off the NEC Tournament on Thursday at St. Francis (N.Y.).

“It’s playoff time, so I have to get my guys fired up,” Johnson said.  “A lot of them are freshmen, so they’ve never played an NEC Champion, so I’ve just got to make sure I lead them.  Lead them with confidence, lead them with energy, and just come out relentless.”

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Dave Johnson nets career-high 19 points in rout of Red Flash

By Kevin Noonan, QBSN Staff Writer

February 23, 2012

The Quinnipiac Bobcats shot the lights out at the TD Bank Sports Center Thursday Night as they crushed the St. Francis (Pa.) Red Flash, 77-44.  With the win, the Bobcats improve to 9-8 in NEC play and 16-12 overall while the Red Flash drop to 5-12 in the NEC and 6-22 overall.

Quinnipiac knocked down its first 12 shots of the second half to extend their 35-20 halftime lead to 62-31.

The Bobcats shot 58.6 percent from the floor compared to 38.3 percent for the Red Flash.

Head coach Tom Moore could not have asked for a better game from his squad.

“I am very happy we were pretty complete in all three phases of the game tonight,” Moore said.  “We were a much improved defensive team from the last time we played them.”

Junior Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) led the Bobcats with a career high 19 points, along with five assists and three rebounds.  Sophomore Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) added 18 points and seven rebounds while freshman Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) scored 15 while grabbing eight boards.

Four of the five starters scored in double figures for Quinnipiac, the lone exception being senior James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) who finished the game with five points and eight assists.

Moore had much praise for James Johnson after the game for his play on the floor.

“James Johnson was incredible in terms of his poise, his patience, and his unselfishness was off the charts,” Moore said.  “He didn’t really force anything and really let his four other teammates have their way offensively.”

Scott Eatherton paced the Red Flash with 16 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes of play.

Dave Johnson was feeling a lot more confident with his shot heading into the game, leading to his eight of 11 shooting.

“I started making a few of them early and I just felt like I was going to have a good shooting day,” said Dave Johnson.

As the first half grew on, the lead for the Bobcats slowly extended itself.  The full-court press instituted by Moore is what initially started the frustration for St. Francis.

Quinnipiac started using it off of made baskets following the first media time out and the Red Flash were quickly irritated.  Junior Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) finished with four steals on the night because of his tenacity on the press.

Freshman Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) got the Bobcats excited on a play in the first half where he dove under a table on press row in order to try and save a ball heading out of bounds.

Quinnipiac opened up the second half on a 23-8 scoring run and did not stop continuing the lead for the remainder of the game.  The largest lead of the night was 38 points for the Bobcats when they led 75-37 with four minutes remaining.

Offense has been the focus the last few practices and has paid off the last few games.

“The last couple of games we’ve been finding each other and building chemistry on offense,” said Azotam.  “It’s all about being confident out there, knowing what shots to take.”

Azotam and Drame each had dunks in the second half that excited the crowd and really gave the Bobcats that much more of a boost.

The Bobcats cannot enjoy the victory for long, as preparations are still being made for archrival Robert Morris who comes into town for an 11 a.m. matchup on ESPNU.

Each matchup tends to be a defensive battle, making Quinnipiac’s ability knock down buckets vital.

“I’m expecting to have to work very hard for every basket we get on Saturday,” said Moore.

Quinnipiac remains tied for fifth place in the Northeast Conference with CCSU and Monmouth but hold the tiebreaker over both teams heading into the final game of the regular season.

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Bobcats out-hustled in loss to St. Francis (N.Y.)

By Gilbert A. Celaya, QBSN Staff Writer

February 16, 2012

In a game that could have had a significant impact in the third place standings in the Northeast Conference (NEC), the Quinnipiac Bobcats (15-11, 8-7 NEC) lost to the St. Francis College (N.Y.) Terriers (14-12, 11-4 NEC) by a score of 64-56 Thursday night.

The Bobcats and the Terriers played a highly fast paced game that tested the discipline and will of both teams.

“We didn’t stop fighting today, but unfortunately the ball didn’t bounce our way,” Garvey Young (Washington D.C.) said.  “They got a couple of offensive rebounds late that gave them extra possessions, and ultimately we weren’t able to come back like we did against Central [Connecticut State University].”

The game was played at an intense and fierce level that saw both teams collect 19 rebounds each in the first half alone.  However, QU seemed to be outhustled by the Terriers most of the night.

“I thought the team that played a little harder, a little tougher on the backboards, and little stronger, a little faster all night won,” stated Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore.

Most of the first half, Quinnipiac was able to keep up with St. Francis (N.Y.) displaying its scrappy play, clawing for every point.

Both teams finished the game almost evenly matched statistically.  The Bobcats edged out the Terriers with 37.3 percent to 36.1 percent field goal percentage.  However, the final score was the deciding factor in this game.

With 12 minutes left in the first half, Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) skied for a rebound off a missed jump shot by Young and slammed it home for two points.

Unfortunately, the Bobcats defense did not sustain their reputation of the last few weeks as QU fell behind by eleven points at one time during the second half.

“I thought they punched us the first five minutes of the game and the first five minutes of the second half,” Moore said.  “It felt like both halves we were staggering to come back from those two punches.”

Yet the Bobcats continued to fight hard and make an honorable comeback.

With just under six minutes left to go, Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) passed the ball to Drame on the post.  Drame worked his way to the hoop, but missed his lay-up attempt.  However, Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) was on the other end of the basket to pick-up the rebound and laid the ball in for his eighth point of the game.

Then with three-and-a-half minutes left, Young was fouled for a three-point play and also made the point after attempt.  Young led all scorers with 16 points on the night.

Late in the game, the Bobcats began to get sloppy, turning over the ball and rarely boxing out for rebounds, especially at the defensive end which gave St. Francis (N.Y.) second chance points.

“We’ve gotten a little bit away from what we’ve been the last three weeks.  We’ve been about defense and about rebounding,” said Moore.

With under a minute left in the game, Drame grabbed a defensive rebound off a missed St. Francis shot, which led to a Bobcat fast break by James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.).  Johnson was fouled attempting a lay-up, in which James Johnson buried both free throws.

It was too little too late for the Bobcats as they played catch-up the entire second half.  With time winding down under a minute left to play, Quinnipiac had to start fouling in order to stop the clock.

Terriers controlled the final minutes of the game that ultimately handed the Bobcats their eleventh loss of the season and seventh in conference play.

“They imposed their will a little more on us than we did on them,” said Moore.

With a win, Quinnipiac could have moved into third place in the NEC.  However, they remain in forth place in the standings.

The Bobcats face an uphill battle in their next game as they travel to face the first place team in the NEC, Long Island University, on Saturday Feb. 18.  The game is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.

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Bobcats dominate rival Blue Devils

By Gilbert A. Celaya, QBSN Staff Writer

February 8, 2012

The Quinnipiac Bobcats (14-10, 7-6 NEC) came out firing on all cylinders on Wednesday night, defeating their rival the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (10-13, 7-6 NEC), 72-44.  QU set the tempo early as the Bobcats finished the game with 46.7 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three-point range.

Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore attributed the Bobcats win to his team’s defensive performance.

“I’m just happy with our defense and continue to be happy with our defense,” Moore said.

Both teams started the game with high intensity in the first half.  The Bobcats played a very up-tempo as they led the Blue Devils by double digits most of the night and took a 34-22 lead into the locker room at halftime.  The Bobcats spread the wealth around in the first half as six different players had contributed to putting points on the board for QU.

The Bobcats’ intensity was lead by point guard Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) who continuously drove through the Blue Devils defense for a total of six assists on the night.

“I try to push the ball as much as I can and try to make plays to try to see if I can find someone open for a three, or every now and then dump the ball down to Ike [Azotam],” Dave Johnson said.

QU capitalized on its aggressiveness as the Bobcats outrebounded the Blue Devils 49-30.  Sixteen of those rebounds collected by the Bobcats were on offense.  Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) led all offensive rebounders with five and also collected three defensive rebounds to finish the night with eight rebounds total.  Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) also had eight rebounds and Dave Johnson had six rebounds, which helped the Quinnipiac control the boards.

“As long as we play tough, the offense will come and everything else will come from a tough defense,” said Azotam.

In the second half, the Bobcats continued to pressure CCSU.  Azotam found a seam in the lane for a jam with eight minutes left in the game.  Then Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) was fouled for a three-point play seconds later as he drove to the hoop on a fast break.  Hearst finished the game with 10 points and three rebounds.

Central Connecticut State head Coach Howie Dickenman was not very happy with the Blue Devil’s performance.

“That was our worst game of the year, and Quinnipiac made it our worst game of the year,” said Dickenman.

Coach Dickenman went on to describe the somber mood of his team’s locker room after the game.

“We went in and it was like a morgue.  We were a very poor basketball team.  We played without passion.  We played without emotion,” said Dickenman.  “Quite honestly, we deserved what we got.  I told our team that the highlight of the evening was when the final horn went off, so we could go to our locker room and mend our wounds.”

As CCSU Coach Dickenman mulled over the loss, QU’s head coach continued to rave about the Bobcat’s defensive performance.

“It’s one thing for the coach staff to try something, it’s another thing for the kids to buy into it and commit to it.  Right now, they are bought in and they are committed, and we’re seeing great results,” Moore said.  “So we’re seeing the results in the [opponents] field goal percentage decreasing and were seeing results in the wins/losses which is what the kids need to see.”

These two teams will play each other again this coming weekend as it is the Blue Devils turn to host the Bobcats.

“We just got to keep improving and keep being hungry, stay humble and stay hungry.  And if we keep playing defense, the sky’s the limit,” said James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.)

Rivalry Week continues on Sunday, Feb. 12 when Quinnipiac travels to Central Connecticut State University for a noon start time.

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Bobcats lose close NEC game against Wagner, 51-50

By Michael Desjardins, QBSN Staff Writer

January 28, 2012

The Quinnipiac Bobcats men’s basketball team lost a close game on Saturday to NEC conference opponent Wagner, 51-50.

Quinnipiac started with an early lead with a shot by freshman forward Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.). Throughout the early portion of the first half, the game turned into a defensive battle with neither team being able to score.

Midway through the first half though, the Seahawks broke it open with an 8-0 run. The Bobcats responded with an 8-0 run of their own.

Wagner would have yet another 8-0 run before Quinnipiac answered back, keeping the game close as the first half ended.  Freshman forward Justin Harris (Paterson, N.J.) delivered a layup with two seconds left to end the half, down 28-25.

Quinnipiac began the second half much like the first by scoring early and locking the Seahawks defensively. After junior guard Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) made an easy layup early in the second half, the Bobcats took their first lead since the beginning of the game.

The Bobcats then created a bigger lead, at one point leading by five. However, Wagner answered back by going on a 9-0 run and took the lead on a three-pointer with just under nine minutes left in regulation. Quinnipiac would keep the game close throughout the game, but it would never regain the lead.

The Bobcats had a chance to win the game after rebounding a missed free throw with about four seconds left. Junior guard Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) attempted a shot from half-court, but it bounced off the rim and missed.

“Wagner has a very good 40-minute defensive presence about them that doesn’t really give you a lot of chances on offense to catch your breath,” Moore said.

Sophomore forward Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) had his 10th double-double of the season, recording 15 points and 13 rebounds. Drame had nine rebounds in the game, including seven offensively.

“I am real proud of how we competed all game,” head coach Tom Moore said. “Have a real high respect level for how good Wagner is and what a season they’ve put together, and how hard they compete. I was very proud of the level of which we battled them, in all phases of the game, throughout the 40 minutes of the game.”

With the loss, Quinnipiac falls to 4-6 in NEC-conference play and 11-10 overall this season. Its next game is on the road against Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7:00 p.m., followed by a road game against Monmouth on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:00 p.m.

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Scrappy Bobcats beat Mountaineers for OT win 

By Gilbert A. Celaya, QBSN Staff Writer

January 26, 2012

The Quinnipiac Bobcats (11-9, 4-5 NEC) fought a hard and scrappy game on Thursday night defeating the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (4-16, 2-7 NEC) 69-66 in overtime.

In a tough battle that saw the end of regulation tied at 61, James Johnson (Queens, NY) missed a half court shot trying to win the game for the Bobcats.  The missed attempt sent the game into overtime.

To start overtime, Ike Azotam (Boston, MA) rocked the bank for the first points of OT as he rattled the rim with a two-handed jam.  Azotam lead the Bobcats in scoring with 20 points as he was 8-for-17 from the field and 4-for-6 from the free throw line on Thursday night.

Overtime seesawed back and forth between QU and Mount St. Mary’s as the Mountaineers seemed to be back on their heels.  Julian Norfleet put up a three-point attempt to try and send the game to a second overtime as time ran off the clock.  But the shot fell short and time ran out on Mount St. Mary’s.  The fans at the TD Bank Sports Center cheered their Bobcats as QU evened up the all-time series at 13-13 versus the Mountaineers.  Norfleet lead all scorers with 26 points.

However the game was a tale of two different halves for QU.  The Bobcats were outscored 43-28 in the first half.  QU also seemed to lack intensity during the first half, as they were out rebounded 20-17.

“We were shocked and down going into the locker room at halftime.  I think we came out very nonchalant, I know I did, and it took us awhile to get going,” Azotam said after the game.

Led by the speed of Josh Castellanos, the high scoring Norfleet and with Kristijan Krajina dominating the inside, the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers seemed to have an answer for everything that the Bobcats threw at them.  Norfleet led all scorers with 12 points in the first half.

Most of the first half, the Bobcats seemed to hang in with the Mountaineers fast-paced offense.  However, the inability to convert lay-ups and grab rebounds hindered QU as they tried to stay in the game.

Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore expressed his displeasure with way his team played in the first half.

“I was shocked and disappointed with our performance.  We looked sluggish and we allowed Mount St. Mary’s to dictate the tempo in the first half,” said Moore.

The Mountaineers always seemed to have an answer to QU’s full court press as Mount St. Mary’s easily handled the QU’s full court defense.  Mount St. Mary’s scored willfully as if the Bobcat defense seemed to not even stand in its way.

“I think I stayed with the full court press a little too long in the first half, and this allowed Mount St. Mary’s to get 10 offensive rebounds in the first half,” Moore said.

The big contributor for the Bobcats in the first half was Azotam, who was 4-for-6 from the field leading the Bobcats in scoring during the first half.  Halfway through the first half, Azotam was able to receive a pass underneath the basket for a thunder dunk that excited the QU fans.

“Ike’s had a lot thrown at him this year.  I think he spoiled us with all those triple-doubles he had at the beginning of the season, and now we want him to keep doing it.  But he’s responded very well to the pressures that the team has faced this season,” said Moore.

Early in the second half, however, the tables seemed to turn and favor the Bobcats as they picked up their intensity and hustle.  While the Mountaineers only scored two points in the first six minutes of the second half, the Bobcats scored 14 points cutting the lead to 45-42.  Mount St. Mary’s did not score another basket until less than 11 minutes left in the game.

The Bobcat defense tightened their pressure in the second half, as they were able to slow down the Mountaineers and begin to out rebound Mount St. Mary’s.

“All we wanted to do was get pressure on the ball,” said Azotam of the Bobcats’ defense in the second half.

As the Bobcats applied pressure on the Mountaineers in the second half, Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass), who was on the court for most of the first half for QU but did not make his presence felt, was able to throw down a dunk with nine minute and 37 seconds left in the game.  Less than a minute later, Azotam again skied over everyone for another thunder jam.  Azotam’s dunk put the Bobcats ahead of Mount St. Mary’s as both teams began to battle for the lead.  This sequence set up the game for the last minute shot taken by Johnson in the final seconds leading into overtime.

Drame finished the night with 13 points going 5-for-9 from the field and 3-for-4 from the charity stripe.  However, it was Drame’s second half rebounding that help lift the Bobcats to the overtime victory as he lead all rebounders with 15 boards.

“Ouse is not too strong, but he’s good with his hands, knows how to use his body, and he’s got a great basketball I.Q.  He knows what he has and he’s using that to help us get the boards that we need,” said Moore of Drame.

As the Bobcats now look past Mount St. Mary’s, Azotam expressed his excitement of beating the Mountaineers after the game.  But he also knows what’s at stake for the team.

“We can’t afford to lose at this point.  We’re battling to get into the tournament at the end of the season.  Our moral went up after this win.  I think we can beat any team in the conference now,” Azotam said.

The next game for the Bobcats is on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. versus the Wagner Seahawks at the TD Bank Sports Center.

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Timely Pioneer shooting, rebounding defeats Bobcats

By Miles McQuiggan, QBSN Staff Writer

January 19, 2012

Behind a career-high 26 points from Louis Montes, 18 second-half points from Shane Gibson, and two rally-crushing offensive rebounds at the end of the game, the Sacred Heart Pioneers knocked off the Quinnipiac Bobcats, 78-75, at the Pitt Center in Fairfield Thursday night. With the win, Sacred Heart improved to 9-11 overall, and 3-4 in the Northeast Conference, while Quinnipiac fell to 9-9 on the season, and 2-5 in NEC play.

Three Bobcats were in double figures in the loss. Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.)  led Quinnipiac with 18, while James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) tallied 16, and Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) recorded 15. The Bobcats had eight rebounds each from Azotam, Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.), and Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.), who played 22 minutes in his first game back from a foot injury that had him sidelined since mid-December.

Quinnipiac led 33-31 at the half, in a back-and-forth stanza that featured six lead changes. The second half featured the same dynamic, as one team would go on a run, and the other would answer back with a run of its own. The Bobcats saw their final lead of the contest slip away with 4:20 remaining, as Gibson hit a layup and made the free throw on a three-point play to put the Pioneers up for good.

With 1:06 remaining, trailing 74-73, the Bobcats had a chance to tilt the table. However, a pair of missed Pioneers shots turned into offensive rebounds, and with less than 35 seconds remaining, Quinnipiac was forced to play the fouling game.

The Bobcats had one final glimmer of a chance with 0.4 seconds remaining, when Dave Johnson was flattened while hoisting a three-quarter-court attempt. Johnson made the first two free throws, but was unsuccessful in the schoolyard attempt of bouncing the ball off the rim out for a three-point attempt.

“I thought the most important part of the game was when Gibson went out with his fourth foul at the ten-minute mark,” Coach Tom Moore said. “They really survived that stretch.”

“We did too many things in the last three minutes to hurt our chances to win,” Moore added, alluding to the missed box-outs, and an inbounding violation that gave the ball back to Sacred Heart.

Quinnipiac returns to action on Saturday, when they travel to Smithfield, R.I., to take on Bryant. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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Men’s basketball overcomes first-half struggles, defeats Hawks

By Miles McQuiggan, QBSN Staff Writer

December 6, 2011

After a frantic first half in which the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team was uncharacteristically outrebounded, and in the words of head coach Tom Moore, “outhustled and out-toughed,” the Bobcats turned it around by getting back to their strong, physical play on the boards in a 70-61 victory over Hartford at Chase Family Arena Tuesday night.

The Hawks outrebounded the Bobcats, 15-14, in the opening stanza. It was a twenty-minute stretch that left both of Quinnipiac’s starting big men with two fouls, three for starting point guard Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.), and a frustrated Moore on the sideline. However, the ability to find good looks from the floor allowed the Bobcats to head to the locker room with a 38-31 cushion.

The second half started out even worse for Quinnipiac, as Hartford pulled ahead courtesy of a 13-4 run in the first six minutes of the frame. But after another sloppy stretch on both sides for the next two and a half minutes, Dave Johnson was able to come up with a steal and a layup in transition to give the Bobcats a 45-44 lead, one they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

Dave Johnson was one of four Bobcats in double figures, scoring 10 points on the night.  James Johnson (Queens, N.J.) and Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) led the Bobcats by posting 15 points each, with Azotam recording 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double in the team’s first eight games. Freshman Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) tallied 14 points in his second career start. The Bobcats outrebounded the Hawks, 27-13, in the second half.

Hartford guard Andres Torres scored a game-high 25 points, 18 of them coming from beyond the arc.

“We played [Torres] strictly as a driver. We gave him a lot of space offensively to shoot threes, and he took the dare, and really did a great job from the perimeter,” Moore said.

The Bobcats return to action on Sunday when they travel to Burlington to take on another America East opponent, the Vermont Catamounts.

 

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Quinnipiac falls in first NEC game of season

By Mark Spillane, QBSN Staff Writer

December 1, 2011

The Quinnipiac Bobcats (2-4) fell to the Sacred Heart Pioneers (5-3) by the score of 68-55 in the 60th meeting between the two teams and the first conference contest for each team this season. The Pioneers increased their all time series lead to 38-22 Thursday night at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden.

The teams played evenly early on, as both defenses stifled their opposition. Sacred Heart led 8-7 after five minutes, but then the Pioneers used several Bobcat turnovers and solid three-point shooting to build a 23-17 lead.

The Bobcats offense then went dormant, as they failed to score for over four and a half minutes late in the first half. Quinnipiac was unable to keep up with the Pioneers as junior Shane Gibson fueled the Sacred Heart attack with 13 first half points. Powered by Gibson, the Pioneers built a 10-point lead (34-24) heading into the half.

The Bobcats came out strong in the second half with an 8-2 run, as they cut the lead to four (36- 32) behind the strong play of senior James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.)

However, the Pioneers responded with a 12-4 run of their own over the next several minutes to re-establish a double-digit lead. The two teams then traded baskets for several possessions, and with 9:56 to play, the Pioneers led 50-40.

Sacred Heart appeared to be in control, holding an eight point lead with 6:13 to go, before a pair of Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) free-throws cut the Pioneer lead back down to six.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, that’s the closest they would ever come to leading, as Sacred Heart used superb ball movement within the last four minutes to beat the full court press. The Pioneers pulled away for good, expanding the lead to as much as 15 before the game ended with the final score 68-55.

The Bobcats struggled with their free throws, shooting just 54 percent from the line, while Sacred Heart shot 69 percent. The Pioneers also shot well from long range, as they drained six of 15 from beyond the arc, while the Bobcats hit just four of their 15 attempts.

The absence of James Johnson for much of the first half due to foul trouble may have contributed to the Bobcats’ shooting woes, as he played just 10 minutes and scored only three points. He did, however, tally 12 second-half points to fuel the Bobcats’ near comeback.

Gibson led the Pioneers with 21 points by hitting on seven of his 12 shots from the field. Three of his seven makes were from three-point range, while he also made all four of his free-throw attempts.

While most of the Bobcats were quiet in this game, Azotam stood out as one of the lone Bobcat highlights of the game. He posted a double-double by scoring 17 points and grabbing 16 boards. Despite his strong play, Azotam and the other Bobcat big men failed to convert on several put back attempts in the paint, costing themselves countless points throughout the game.

Both teams have their second conference games this Saturday, as Sacred Heart will look to carry the momentum of this victory into their next tilt against Central Connecticut State. Quinnipiac, however, must rebound quickly, because Bryant comes to town this Saturday at 3 p.m. The Bulldogs will come out hungry and desperate as they are looking to snap a five game losing skid and earn their first road victory of the year.

 

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Bobcats protect the bank for first win of the season

By Gilbert A. Celaya, QBSN Staff Writer

November 15, 2011

The Quinnipiac Bobcats (1-1) extended their all-time lead over the Yale Bulldogs to 4-0 by a final score of 68-62 in front of a stellar crowd to protect the TD Bank Sports Center on Tuesday night.  The victory over Yale is Quinnipiac’s first of the season.

Bobcats head coach Tom Moore was pleased with the way his team performed against the Bulldogs.

“I’m happy with the way we played.  We were very composed even though we have a young team,” said Moore of his team’s play.

In a game that was featured on the SportsNet New York (SNY), Bobcats senior guard James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) was the standout player draining three three-pointers that buried the Bulldog defense.  Playing 37 minutes, Johnson finished with 25 points and an astounding zero personal fouls.

The first half featured the two teams feeling each other out as if to see who would make the first move.  This made for a good free-throw battle between Yale and QU.  As both teams were trying to be cautious, they each kept sending each other to the free-throw line.

With a score of 32-31 at the half, free throws kept the Bobcats ahead of the Bulldogs throughout the first half of the game.  Yale’s leading scorer in the first half was senior forward/guard Reggie Willhite, who was 5-of-8 from the floor but 0-of-2 from the free-throw line, as Bulldog teammate sophomore center/forward Jeremiah Kreisberg was a perfect 6-for-6 at the free-throw line.

The Bobcats’ sophomore forward Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) and Johnson only had a pair each from the field, but were 5-of-6 and 5-of-7 respectively from the charity stripe.  Freshman forward Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.), sophomore forward Justin Harris (Paterson, N.J.) and freshmen forward Alex Jackson (Baltimore, Md.), also contributed with free throws to give Quinnipiac a 77.8 percent to 72.2 percent first half advantage over the Bulldogs.

The second half was a faster paced game as the Bulldogs and Bobcats pressed each other, causing sloppy play by both teams.  Quinnipiac struggled with penalties early in the second half with more than 15 minutes still left to play, but they were able to regain their composure and out play Yale.

Azotam accredited his teammates with being able to recognize when they need to count on each other when the Bobcats start to lose their composure.

“It was the same against Fairfield.  We have some young guys who start to complain.  But that’s the good thing about having leaders like James [Johnson], Jamee [Jackson], and Dave [Johnson],” Azotam said.  “They’re good leaders and they were able to keep our heads up.”

James Johnson hit his first three-pointer for the Bobcats in the second half and his second three-pointer with just over 11 minutes left.  These threes gave Quinnipiac a four-point lead both times as the game started to become a see-saw battle early in the second half despite the sloppy play from both sides.  Then, around the nine-minute mark, Johnson hit his third three-pointer to put the Bobcats up by an eight point lead as they began to distance themselves from the Bulldogs.

Willhite placed himself in early foul trouble with four personal fouls and was benched until late in the second half.  Willhite was not much of a factor after he re-entered the game.

James Johnson, who was supposed to be matched up with Willhite during the game, said that he doesn’t pay attention to who is supposed to guard him during games.

“It doesn’t matter who really guards me.  I just try to do what coach tells me when I’m out there.  I don’t like to get into the one-on-one match ups,” said Johnson.

Yale head coach James Jones was disappointed that Willhite had got himself into foul trouble.

“We have him in there for defensive purposes.  Having him out of the game really hurt us,” said James.

With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.) skied through the lane to grab a rebound off a Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) three-point attempt for a thunder jam that got the Quinnipiac faithful on their feet.

After that, the Bobcats never relinquished the lead, as they were able to pretty much have their way against the Bulldogs.

Coach Moore, however, still recognizes that the team still has more to accomplish moving forward after the Yale game.

“It’s ugly for us because we’re still learning,” Moore said.

The Bobcats’ next game is Saturday Nov.19 at 2 p.m. against Navy at the TD Bank Sports Center.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Bobcats hold off Hawks at the buzzer

By: Nick Sczerbinski, QBSN Staff Writer

November 6, 2010

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team got two late free throws by Dave Johnson which proved enough to give the Bobcats a 66-64 win over the Hartford University Hawks in their home opener Tuesday night.

James Johnson led the Bobcats with a game-high 23 points and Justin Rutty earned his 32nd career double-double, helping Quinnipiac improve to 2-0 in the young season.

The Bobcats shot just 56 percent from the free throw line, nearly costing the Bobcats an unexpected loss. But multiple James Johnson three pointers allowed Quinnipiac to keep up the pace in a game they never trailed.

Hartford, who lost to Central Connecticut by two earlier in the week, was led by big man Morgan Sabia, who finished with 23 points and six rebounds.  Sharpshooter Joe Zeglinski had 12 points but only hit one shot in the second half when QU’s defense stepped up.

The Bobcats began the game on a 13-2 run, but Hartford battler all the way back to tie it at 13.  Deontay Twyman had a solid first half and helped extend the QU lead to 10 points at halftime.

By the end of the contest, free throws became the difference.  Dave Johnson split two from the line with less than 20 seconds on the clock, leaving the Hawks with the ball and a two-point deficit to overcome.

Hartford worked the ball down court, made a couple of passes at the top of the arc, and eventually found Burton, who was open to shoot.  His buzzer beater attempt hit the rim and bounced out, sealing the win for the Bobcats.

Freshman Dominique Langston had 12 points in the second half for the Bobcats and helped QU to maintain their lead throughout the game.

Quinnipiac will play next at the Bank on Saturday vs. Vermont at 3 p.m. That game will be televised on NESN.

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