HAMDEN, Conn. – Led by Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) and Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.), the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated defending NEC Champion LIU Brooklyn, 82-74, on Saturday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center. With the win, the Bobcats snapped a four-game losing streak to the Blackbirds and improved to 5-8 overall and 1-1 in conference competition.
Azotam and Conti accounted for 24 of Quinnipiac 50 points in the second half. Azotam led all scorers with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting, while Conti chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds, falling one board shy of his first career double-double. Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) was also stellar offensively as the senior guard poured in 15 points and snatched three steals in the win. Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) aided the Bobcats' front court with 10 points and six rebounds.
The two teams struggled offensively early on, with the edge going to LIU Brooklyn in the opening minutes. That all changed though as James Ford, Jr. (Hopewell, Va.) came off the bench and quickly altered momentum for the hosting Bobcats. Ford connected on back-to-back three-pointers – which was followed by consecutive layups by Conti and Drame. The 10-0 run erased a six-point deficit and sent the Bobcats into the locker room with a 32-31 lead at halftime.
After the break, Quinnipiac carried its momentum en route to another offensive spurt. Azotam sparked a 9-2 run midway through the second half which resulted in a nine-point advantage for the home team. Quinnipiac sustained its lead down the stretch and closed out the game with an 8-for-8 stint at the free-throw line. Quinnipiac was 14-of-20 in the second half alone – a key factor in the win.
LIU Brooklyn, playing without its top three players, presented exactly what Quinnipiac expected going into the game. The Blackbirds used their typical fast-paced offense, but were held below their season-average in field goal percentage (47.1 percent). Quinnipiac countered that with 50.8 percent from the floor and disallowed second-chance point by controlling the glass, 41-27. The Bobcats also amassed a 44-36 advantage in the paint.
Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.), despite foul trouble, and Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) also chipped in with valuable minutes. Hearst finished with eight points and eight rebounds and Jackson had six points and six rebounds. Ford, Jr. dished out three assists in addition to his six points and Kendrick Ray (Middletown, N.Y.) had five points.
The Bobcats improved to 16-14 record all-time against the Blackbirds. LIU took all three games from the Bobcats last season, including a three-point victory in the NEC Semifinals. This snapped the longest losing streak since a five-game skid to begin the rivalry.
Quinnipiac is back in action against the surging Bryant Bulldogs on Thursday, January 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Chace Athletic Center in Smithfield, R.I.
Fans interested in purchasing season tickets for the 2012-13 campaign can call the QU Ticket Office at 203-582-3905, visit the official website of Quinnipiac athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com or make a trip to the TD Bank Sports Center Ticket Office.
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.