BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Freshmen Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) and Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) each cashed in with career-high point totals on Saturday evening, but the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team was defeated by the NEC's top-ranked team in LIU Brooklyn, 99-89, at the Wellness Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. With the loss, the Bobcats descend to 15-12 overall and 8-8 in the Northeast Conference, while the Blackbirds improve to 21-7, 15-1 in the league.
In their best offensive performance of the season, QU placed four Bobcats in double-digits by the end of the night. As a collective unit, Quinnipiac connected on 52.8 percent (38-72) of its field goal attempts, a number that was complemented with 18 assists. Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) led the way with 22 point, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in the losing effort. Hearst poured in 19 points, 12 of which came in the first half, to go along with eight rebounds and two assists. Drame collected his fourth career double-double by adding 16 points and 10 rebounds and James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) chimed in with 11 points.
Despite the offensive outburst, the nation's sixth ranked offense proved to be just a tad bit better, due in large part to the three-point line. The Blackbirds tossed in 14 from behind the arc, led by five in the second half alone from Michael Culpo. LIU knocked down 55.4 percent (36-65) from the floor and 53.8 percent from long range.
The first half featured a blistering start from Quinnipiac, as the visiting Bobcats boasted a 23-15 lead through the first 10 minutes of play. With junior forward Jamal Olaseware sidelined because of two quick fouls, Hearst, Drame and company took full advantage on the offensive end.
However, the Blackbirds soon settled in and battled back with a 21-13 run over the next six minutes; bringing the score to a deadlock at 36 apiece. LIU continued its surge through the remainder of the half and carried a 47-43 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After the break in action, the two teams exchanged a pair of baskets through the opening minutes of the second half. Just as the clock ticked under 18 minutes though, LIU rallied behind its home crowd and put together a lengthy surge. Julian Boyd capped off a 23-9 run over seven minutes of play, a sequence that also sent Drame to the bench with his fourth foul.
Quinnipiac responded with back-to-back baskets to chip away at its 16-point deficit. However as the game progressed, the Bobcats began trading points with LIU, disallowing the visitors to do enough damage. The three-point line also gave LIU an extra advantage, as the hosting Blackbirds tallied eight of them in the second frame.
For the game, QU outrebounded LIU, 40-31, which included 17 on the offensive glass for the nation's best team in that particular category. The Bobcats also controlled a 22-13 edge in second chance points and owned the paint, 46-36.
Julian Boyd and C.J. Garner led the Blackbirds with 25 points apiece. Boyd completed the double-double with 10 boards in the team's final regular season home contest.
The Bobcats are back in action on Thursday, February 23 with their second-to-last regular season home game. QU welcomes Saint Francis (Pa.) to the TD Bank Sports Center with tip-off slated for 7 p.m. For all the latest news, scores and highlights pertaining to the men's basketball program, visit www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu