PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Senior Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) and freshman Kasim Chandler (Newark, N.J.) shined in the Bobcats' 2013-14 national television debut on Tuesday morning, but it was La Salle University who held on to escape with a 73-67 victory over the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team at Tom Gola Arena. The game was aired live on ESPN2 as part of the 2013 College Hoops Tip-off Marathon.
Quinnipiac, now 1-1 on the young season, received 19 points from Chandler and 17 points from Azotam against an opponent who made a historical run to the Sweet 16 last year. The Explorers feature four returning starters from that squad this time around.
Nonetheless, Quinnipiac and La Salle went toe-to-toe in a game that was never separated by more than nine points. Behind a rowdy crowd of 3,229, the Explorers fed off of the encouragement and jumped out to an early lead. Ahead by one point around the first half's midway mark, La Salle sparked an 11-3 run over the next five minutes to gather its largest lead of the game, 27-18.
Quinnipiac weathered the storm though, minimizing the damage with a nine-point swing of its own before the break. La Salle carried a mere four point edge into the locker room at halftime, 35-31, with each team struggling mightily from the floor. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field, but eight turnovers from the Bobcats may have attributed to La Salle's early advantage.
Similar to the season-opener against Hartford, Quinnipiac came out with vengeance in the second half and erased the first-half deficit. At the strength of a 10-2 run over a two minute span, the Bobcats silenced the crowd by taking a one point lead on a jumper by Chandler, 47-46. Whether it was a point or an assist, he played a role in every scoring play for Quinnipiac during that span.
With the score tied at 56 apiece, a series of free-throws and layups by La Salle redirected momentum back in favor of the home team. La Salle sustained a two-possession advantage through the waning minutes and managed to hold on for the victory. The Bobcats had the deficit down to two points with 37 seconds remaining, but Sam Mills and Tyrone Garland went 4-for-4 from the stripe to dismiss the comeback.
In the second meeting between the programs, not much separated the two teams on the box score. Quinnipiac shot 38.3 percent from the field, 30.8 percent from long range and 68.0 percent from the free-throw line, compared to 38.5 percent, 33.3 percent and 69.0 percent from the Explorers. La Salle did however match Quinnipiac on the glass, with each team hauling in 43 for the game. It was the first time in 33 games that Quinnipiac failed to out-rebound its opponent.
In addition to Azotam and Chandler, Umar Shannon (Atlantic City, N.J.) was also in double-figures with 12 points. He is 46 points shy of 1,000 for his career. Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) had eight points and a team-best 10 rebounds, while Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.), who was playing in his hometown, added five points for the Bobcats.
La Salle, who is also 1-1 through two games, was led by Tyreek Duren's game-high of 17 points. Three others finished in double-figures.
The ESPN Tip-off Marathon marks the opening of the college basketball season by providing more than 24 hours of consecutive basketball coverage over Monday, Nov. 11 and Tuesday, Nov. 12. The schedule includes 16 men's matchups and two top-25 women's games across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, ending with the third installment of the State Farm Champions Classic – featuring Michigan State vs. Kentucky and Kansas vs. Duke – from the United Center in Chicago.
The Bobcats return to action on Saturday, Nov. 16 with their first home game of the 2013-14 season. Quinnipiac welcomes 2012 America East champion Albany to the TD Bank Sports Center for a 2 p.m. tip-off.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets for the 2013-14 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.
Student-Athletes, parents and fans can download the 2013-14 QU Athletics schedules to your laptop and mobile devices for free by clicking in the iCalendar link at the bottom of each sport's homepage or the master schedule page. Fans can also follow Quinnipiac Athletics on Facebook and Twitter (@QUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates.