November 22, 2011

Men's Basketball Drops Heartbreaker; Falls Short To American, 74-73

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sophomore Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) posted his fourth consecutive double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds on Tuesday night, but a free-throw with eight seconds left proved to be the difference for American University, as the Eagles defeated the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team by the final score of 74-73 at Bender Arena.

With the setback, the Bobcats dropped to 2-2 on the season and 1-1 against opponents from the Patriot League. On the other side, the Eagles ascended back over the .500 mark and extended their unbeaten streak to three games, moving to 3-2 on the year.

Azotam led all Bobcats with 20 points, as the power forward went 7-of-12 from the floor. He connected on 6-of-8 from the free-throw line, grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds and blocked two shots in another stellar performance.

Charles Hinkle, who entered the game as the nation's ninth ranked scorer, compiled 31 points on just 6-of-16 shooting. However, the senior forward made a living at the charity stipe, collecting 15 points on 19 total attempts. Freshman John Schoof registered nine points, whereas three other Eagles tallied six points in the game.

A quick start offensively and defensively propelled the Bobcats to an early lead in this one. QU scored the game's first seven points, while forcing the hosting Eagles to a 0-for-3 start on offense. Despite foul trouble around the midway mark of the opening stanza, Quinnipiac maintained its advantage through much of the first half.

The Eagles chipped away at their deficit late in the frame, and even took a one-point lead with just over three minutes to go in the half. However, the Bobcats rallied off a 9-2 run to close out the opening 20 minutes of play, granting the away team a 37-31 advantage as the halftime whistle sounded.

In the second half of action, foul trouble continued to plague QU, as the Bobcats finished with 33 infractions by the end of the night. The second stanza also featured 15 lead changes and 10 times that the score was tied.

With 1:08 left on the clock, Azotam put the Bobcats on top, 72-70, after completing an old-fashioned three-point play. Nonetheless, on the ensuing possession, Hinkle connected on a shot from behind the arc to give the home team a 73-72 lead with just 42 seconds remaining in regulation.

Senior James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.), who missed much of the game because of foul trouble, raced down the court and drew a foul on his way to the basket. Johnson knocked down 1-of-2 from the stripe, giving the Bobcats a mere one-point advantage with 33 seconds showing on the clock.

Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the whistle sounded for another infraction with just eight seconds left in the game. AU's Blake Jolivette missed the first free-throw, but rattled home the second, which proved to be the difference in a heartbreaking loss for Quinnipiac.

Quinnipiac totaled 33 fouls in the contest, eight more than the Eagles. AU went to the line 48 times, compared to 32 for the Bobcats, and made nine fewer field goals as well. Quinnipiac held American to just 25 percent shooting in the first half and 37 percent overall. The Bobcats continued their dominance on the boards, controlling a plus-20 rebounding margin (45-25).   

Joining Azotam with double-figures were freshman Nate Gause (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) and junior Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.). Gause finished with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting (2-of-4 from long-distance) and Jackson added 13 on 5-of-10 shooting. James Johnson finished with eight points, surpassing Robert Vacca for 17th on the all-time career scoring list. Sophomore Alex Jackson (Baltimore, Md.) chimed in with six points.

The Bobcats will enjoy a few days off for Thanksgiving before heading out to Pennsylvania for their next contest. QU is set to take on Lehigh University, who was selected to win the Patriot League, on Monday, November 28 at 7 p.m.  Live audio and statistics will be provided for the contest at www.quinnipiacbobcats.com.

Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu