ST. THOMAS, US Virgin Islands – Less than 24 hours after a double overtime marathon with nationally-ranked No. 21 UConn, Quinnipiac took the floor for its 2012 Paradise Jam finale against George Mason University. Fatigue may have been a factor as the Patriots handed the Bobcats a 74-58 loss in the consolation match of the winners' bracket – a game broadcasted nationally on the CBS Sports Network.
Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) led the Bobcats with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists, which concluded a stellar all-around tournament for the senior. Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) joined Johnson in double-figures with 11, while eight other players made their way to the scoring column. Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) finished with nine points and game-high 11 rebounds; Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) added seven points and six rebounds, and Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.), Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) and Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) each chimed in with five points.
Following a 50-minute battle with UConn yesterday, the Patriots' physicality and up-tempo style did not bode well for the Bobcats. That, coupled with a very deep bench, permitted George Mason to wear down Quinnipiac as the game went on. Leading 22-19 with 4:44 seconds remaining the first half, George Mason rattled off an 8-0 run over the next minute – grabbing a double-digit advantage, 30-19. The Patriots never relinquished the 10-point advantage and took a 34-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Head Coach Tom Moore has preached the work ethic and commitment of his team all season long, and the Bobcats once again proved him right. Quinnipiac opened the second half with a 16-8 run behind buckets from Johnson, Drame, Young and Jackson – cutting its deficit to just two points with 14 minutes to play.
Just as the momentum seemed to be heading in QU's direction, a resilient and efficient George Mason squad weathered the storm and returned to form. The Patriots bounced back with a 12-4 run over the next five minutes to regain its their double-digit lead, this time, an advantage they would not let slip away. Behind 51.7 percent shooting in the second frame, George Mason clung to its lead in the final minutes and escaped with third place in the tournament.
Despite the losing effort, Coach Moore and the Bobcats can take a lot from the four-day tournament against formidable competition. "In the grand scheme of things, it was nice to get a win against probably one of the strongest teams in the MAAC conference (Iona) and we played a top 25 team on even terms for 50 minutes," said Moore. "I think it accelerated the growth of a lot of our players and the reason you do this at this level is you hope it pays dividends when we play in our own league."
In its first, in-season tournament in program history, Quinnipiac garnered a fifth place showing – following New Mexico, UConn, George Mason and UIC. The Gaels of Iona College finished sixth, ACC affiliate Wake Forest claimed seventh, and Mercer rounded out the field in eighth place.
The Bobcats will enjoy some time off through the holiday after their stay in Saint Thomas. Quinnipiac returns to the hardwood on Tuesday, November 27 with a crucial non-conference showdown against CJ McCollum and Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the TD Bank Sports Center.
Please refer to the Official Website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com, for any schedule changes as well as the latest news, scores and highlights. The 2012-13 Men's Basketball Schedule is also available for download at www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com for all mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads, as well as all desktop computers.
Contact: Tony Distasio; email@example.com