Bobcats Catch Fire and Roll Past Monmouth, 94-77

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – For the second straight year, Quinnipiac traveled to Monmouth and dominated the hardwood at the MAC. Led by Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) and Umar Shannon (Atlantic City, N.J.), the Bobcats put together a monstrous second half and coasted to a 94-77 victory on Saturday afternoon. Quinnipiac improved to 7-5 overall with the win but more importantly moved to 2-1 in MAAC competition.

The Bobcats received double-figures offensively from five different players, but it was Azotam and Umar Shannon who stole the show. Azotam matched a season-high with 24 points and set a new season-high with 16 rebounds. It was his seventh double-double of the season and 33rd of his career, as he now only trails Justin Rutty's program record of 41 by seven. He was 8-of-13 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.

Umar Shannon was one point shy of his season-high with 23 points, and once again did most of his damage from long range. For the second straight game, Shannon knocked down five threes, marking the most threes in a two-game stretch since James Johnson tallied 11 back in 2010-11. He was 7-of-12 from the floor, 5-of-9 from behind the arc and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.

Quinnipiac built a 14-point lead midway through the first half on the strength of a 17-6 run. Azotam, who capped off the run with a dunk in transition, totaled 11 points and 11 rebounds in the first half alone. Umar Shannon added three threes and James Ford (Hopewell, Va.) knocked down two of his own to help the run. Monmouth erased the deficit completely before the halftime whistle, but Quinnipiac held the Hawks scoreless in the final 2:32 and upped its lead back up to seven, 45-38, before the break.

After intermission, it was all Quinnipiac. The Bobcats pushed the lead to double-digits just minutes into the second stanza and then used a 10-0 to garner its largest lead of the game. Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) capped off the run with a layup in the lane and gave Quinnipiac a 72-49 advantage with 13:22 remaining. Monmouth would never get to within 16 for the rest of the game.

Quinnipiac matched a season-high by making 50 percent of its attempts from the field, a number that was inflated by shooting 59.3 percent in the second half. The Bobcats improved to 24-5 over the past six seasons when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor. Quinnipiac also added 27 points (27-35) from the free-throw line.

Azotam and Umar Shannon were joined in double-figures by three other Bobcats. Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) was one rebound shy of a double-double (10 points and nine rebounds), while Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) and Kasim Chandler (Newark, N.J.) each had 10 points. Ford chipped in with nine points in 16 quality minutes off the bench and Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) added two points.

Quinnipiac owned the backboards with a plus-21 margin, 45-24. That included 20 on the offensive end, spearheaded by eight from Azotam and five from Drame. Quinnipiac had 20 second chance points.

With the win, Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore collected his 115th career victory. The Bobcats improved to 16-13 all-time against Monmouth and have won 11 of the last 13 meetings. That includes a 5-2 record in New Jersey.

Monmouth, who fell to 7-8 overall and 1-3 in league play, was led by Justin Robinson who registered team-highs in points (15) and assists (6). Three others finished with double-figures as well.

Quinnipiac is back in action on Monday, Jan. 6 with its makeup game against Iona College. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the TD Bank Sports Center. The game will be televised on SNY.

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