HAMDEN, Conn. – The Quinnipiac men's basketball team did what they do best on Saturday afternoon - rebound. The Bobcats dominated the backboards and earned a comfortable 85-71 victory over Niagara on Lender Court at the TD Bank Sports Center.
It marked Quinnipiac's fifth win in their last six tries, as the Bobcats improved to 11-6 overall and 6-2 in league play. Dating back to last season, Quinnipiac is 13-1 in its last 14 games at the Bank, which includes 11 straight wins against conference opponents.
Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) and Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) led the Bobcats, each posting a double-double in the game. Azotam mustered his 37th career double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Drame picked up his 16th career double-double at the strength of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Both continue to climb the latter among the national leaders for the category.
From the sound of the opening whistle, Quinnipiac's intensity on the glass overwhelmed the New York foe. The Bobcats went up 17-7 at the 12:24 mark, and then created more separation by closing the half on a 21-13 run. Quinnipiac carried a 14-point, 41-27, edge into the locker room at halftime – due in large part to a 33-17 advantage on the glass. It marked a season-high for the Bobcats.
After the break, Quinnipiac sustained its double-digit lead for the majority of the second half. Niagara cut its deficit to eight, 63-55, with 7:52 remaining after 10-2 run – but the Bobcats seized control of the game by scoring 17 of the game's next 23 points over the ensuing five minutes. Umar Shannon (Atlantic City, N.J.) and Drame helped secure the victory from the free-throw line by combining to go 13-of-13 in the second half.
Quinnipiac featured a balanced attack as all five starters scored in double-figures for the first time this year. Umar Shannon went 9-of-10 from the charity stripe to collect a game high of 16 points. Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) was one rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds, and Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) chimed in with 12 points and four rebounds. Shaq Shannon cashed in on all three of his three-point attempts.
For the second consecutive game, the Bobcats held their opponent to below 40 percent shooting. Niagara shot 38.7 percent for the game, which was deflated by a 2-of-13 showing from long range. The Bobcats held Antoine Mason, the nation-and-MAAC's leading scorer, to just seven points in the first half. He finished with 28 for the game, but most came down the final stretch when the game was out of reach.
Quinnipiac earned a plus-29 margin in rebounding (56-27) while picking up 21 on the offensive end. The Bobcats finished with 23 second chance points.
With the win, QU improved to 3-0 all-time against Niagara. The Purple Eagles, who have dropped five of their last six games, fell to 5-14 overall and 2-6 in the MAAC. Niagara heads to Canisius on Wednesday for its next game.
Quinnipiac is back in action next weekend with arguably its most difficult two-game set of the season. The Bobcats head to Iona on Friday, Jan. 24 and then Manhattan on Sunday, Jan. 26. Quinnipiac's 7 p.m. tilt with the Gaels will be televised live on ESPN3.
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.