Men’s Basketball Holds Off Fairfield for First MAAC Win, 83-79

HAMDEN, Conn. – Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) was one point shy of matching his career high and Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) chipped in with his 31st career double-double, as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team outlasted cross-state foe Fairfield, 83-79, in its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game in program history. The Bobcats improved to 5-2 overall and 1-0 in league play, while also moving to 9-1 in their last 10 games at the TD Bank Sports Center.

Drame's efficiency in the post was key to the Bobcat victory with the 6-9 forward making 6-of-11 from the floor. He also added a career high of 10 free-throws - only missing one attempt on the night - and matched his career high and program-record of six blocks. Drame's stat line also included eight rebounds and one steal.

Joining Drame with a dominant performance in the post was Ike Azotam, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. It was Azotam's fourth straight double-double, as he now remains just 10 shy of Justin Rutty's Division I record. Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) continued his stellar play with 20 points and six rebounds – extending his double-digit scoring streak to five straight.

Fairfield was quick out of the gate, but Quinnipiac's aggressive play began to pay dividends through the first half. The Bobcats made their way to the free-throw line 25 times and converted on 19 of those attempts. Trailing by nine points as the clock ticked inside of seven minutes, Drame sparked and capped off a 16-0 run over the next four minutes – granting the Bobcats a 41-34 lead with 2:26 remaining in the half. Quinnipiac carried a six-point, 44-38, advantage into the locker room at the break.   

Quinnipiac maintained its multiple-possession lead for the majority of the second half. Fairfield made it interesting down the stretch after cutting the deficit to four after a KJ Rose trifecta and a Lincoln Davis free-throw, but Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Hearst sealed the victory from the charity stripe (4-4).

The Stags opening-whistle burst came at the strength of a rebounding advantage early on. However, right before the 16-0 Bobcat spurt, the edge on the glass turned in favor of Quinnipiac. The Bobcats ended up with 51 rebounds and a plus-nine advantage, making it 39 straight games without surrendering the rebounding edge.

Quinnipiac also gained some separation by way of the charity stripe, connecting on 76 percent of its attempts (35-46). Fairfield was hounded by foul trouble all night, while only making 15-of-22 from the line. The Bobcats also blocked nine shots, headlined by Drame's six.

Kasim Chandler (Newark, N.J.) was the other Bobcat in double-figures. He added 14 points and four assists, marking the fifth time he has had 10 or more points this season. Shaq Shannon was one rebound shy of a career high with 11 and dished out a team-high five assists. Umar Shannon (Atlantic City, N.J.) finished with five points, three rebounds and three assists.

Fairfield, now 1-7 on the season, was led by 31 points from Marcus Gilbert. He was 11-of-19 with three assists and two rebounds. Coleman Johnson and Lincoln Davis had 12 points apiece.  

Quinnipiac returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 8 with the second conference game of its young season. The Bobcats head to Rider University for a 2 p.m. tilt at Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrence Township, N.J.

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