BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. – Fighting for seeding in the upcoming Northeast Conference Tournament, the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team took care of business at St. Francis Brooklyn on Thursday night, as the Bobcats topped the Terriers, 78-67, at the Pope Physical Education Center. Quinnipiac, now 15-14 overall and 11-6 in league play, would solidify at least the No. 3 seed with a win at LIU Brooklyn on Saturday.
Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) led all scorers with 19 points, serving as one of four Bobcats in double-figures. Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) had 17 points and a career-high three blocks – marking his fifth straight game with double-digits. Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) finished with 14 points, a game-high eight assists and five rebounds, while Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) sparked the Bobcats in the second half with 13 points.
Quinnipiac endured a rough start to the first half, falling behind by 11 points midway through the stanza. That all changed at the 7:36 mark, when Hearst connected on back-to-back threes which sparked a 23-11 run for the Bobcats. Hearst concluded the first-half scoring summary with a pair of free-throws and Quinnipiac carried a one-point lead, 36-35, into the locker room at halftime.
After the break, little by little Quinnipiac began pulling away from the Terriers. The Bobcats scored the first six points of the second half for some breathing room; and then opened up a double-digit lead with a 12-1 around the midway mark. Conti, who was playing in front several friends and family members, netted six points during the stretch to push the Bobcat lead to 13 points. Quinnipiac was terrific from the free-throw line all night – disallowing St. Francis back into the game.
Quinnipiac went 25-of-29 (86 percent) from the free-throw line which included a 10-for-10 night for Johnson and a 6-for-6 night for Hearst. With SFC's 12-of-20 showing from the stripe, the Bobcats improved to 11-2 this year when hitting more free-throws than their opponent.
Quinnipiac was equally as good on the other end, holding St. Francis to 38.1 percent from the floor, including just 31.8 percent from long range. The Bobcats controlled a 43-33 edge on the glass, converting 13 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points. Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) posted a career-high nine rebounds and Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.) snagged seven. Quinnipiac also added five blocked shots.
St. Francis was led by Ben Mockford and Akeem Johnson who each snared 13 points in the losing effort. SFC and Sacred Heart square off on Saturday afternoon, with the winner advancing to the tournament.
Only two spots in the NEC Tournament have been solidified, as RMU claimed the regular-season title with its win over Bryant and CCSU can't move from the seventh seed. Quinnipiac can finish anywhere from second to sixth depending on how things shape out on the final day.
The Bobcat and the Blackbirds will tip-off at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets 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.
Contact: Tony Distasio; firstname.lastname@example.org