Men's Basketball Drops NEC Opener To Sacred Heart, 68-55

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HAMDEN, Conn. – The Quinnipiac men's basketball team lost to Sacred Heart on Thursday night, 68-55, in their Northeast Conference opener at the TD Bank Sports Center. The Bobcats, who had defeated the Pioneers in five straight heading into the night, dropped to 2-4 overall, 0-1 in conference play. SHU improved to 5-3, 1-0 in the league.

Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) led the way for QU, as the sophomore forward scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Senior James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) also fared well offensively, registering 15 points in reduced minutes due to foul trouble. Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) and Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) added five points and two others finished with four.

The first half featured a quick start for the visiting Pioneers, who posted a 5-0 run right out of the gate. QU regained its composure and cut into the deficit, but shooting woes began to plague the Bobcats' offense. Sacred Heart went on a 15-6 run midway through the stanza, granting the visitors a 30-11 lead with 2:54 left in the half.

Quinnipiac connected on just 26 percent of its first-half field goals and turned the ball over eight times, resulting in 10 points on the other end for SHU. The Pioneers, led by 13 points from Shane Gibson, took a 34-24 advantage into the locker room at the break.

After halftime, Quinnipiac looked as though offense would come easier, as the Bobcats reduced their double-digit deficit to just six points with 14 minutes showing on the clock. However, the Pioneers wouldn't relinquish their lead and then extended the margin to 12 points with just over 10 minutes left in regulation.

QU put together one last run in the closing minutes to once again cut the Pioneer lead to six points at the 6:13 mark. However, SHU rattled off nine straight points over the four minutes, leaving a mountain to climb for the Bobcats. Sacred Heart sustained its advantage down the stretch and escaped with a 68-54 triumph on the road.

QU controlled the paint, 28-22, the boards, 45-39, and second chance points, 15-3, but surrendered an 11-point edge on the free-throw line. In addition, Sacred Heart finished 42 percent of its shot attempts, compared to just 31 percent from the Bobcats.

Gibson had 21 points to lead the Pioneers, who travel to Central Connecticut St. on Saturday afternoon. Chris Evans and Femi Akinpetide each added 11 points in the victory.

The Bobcats have just one full day to prepare for their next opponent, as QU welcomes Bryant to TD Bank Sports Center on Saturday, December 3. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. with live video, audio and stats available at

Contact: Tony Distasio;