UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team used a 24-9 run to erase a 15-point deficit in the second half on Friday night, but couldn't complete the comeback bid as the Bobcats dropped their season-opener to Fairfield University, 72-60, in the middle game of the Connecticut 6 Classic at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) posted a double-double for the Bobcats, as the sophomore forward powered his way to 17 points and 10 boards. Junior Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.) chimed in with 11 points and six rebounds, all on the offensive end, while newcomer Nate Gause (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) provided an impactful spark off the bench with 12 points and three rebounds.
Fairfield boasted an 8-1 advantage out of the gate, a deficit that the Bobcats could not expunge in the first half. The Stags then extended their lead to 15 points, the largest lead of the game, with 5:53 remaining in the opening stanza. Rakim Sanders and Maurice Barrow accounted for 25 points in the first half, as Fairfield claimed a nine-point lead at the break, 38-29.
After the intermission, the Stags put together a 10-4 run over the first four minutes to match their largest lead of 15 points. The teams exchanged baskets through the next possessions until the 13:07 mark, where the Bobcats' offense came to life.
With Sanders and Derek Needham on the bench with foul trouble, a Jamee Jackson dunk sparked an 18-4 run that knotted the score up at 57-57 with 5:07 left in regulation. Six different Bobcats scored during the stretch, capped off by two free-throws from freshman Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.).
The surge forced first-year Head Coach Sydney Johnson into a timeout and the return of his top scorers, which proved to be effective for Fairfield. The Stags compiled a quick 5-0 spurt that turned into a 15-3 run to close out the contest.
Barrow led the Stags with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Sanders, a transfer from Boston College, poured in 16 points. Needham added 14 points and Ryan Olander chimed in with 12.
Hearst and junior Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) spearheaded the QU backcourt and combined for 13 points. Quinnipiac continued its dominance on the boards, controlling a 43-35 advantage, including 19-9 on the offensive glass.
However, Fairfield knocked down 10-of-19 from downtown and shot 45 percent from the floor. The Bobcats connected for only 2-of-9 from behind the arc and 35 percent overall. Both team struggled from the charity stripe, shooting right around 50 percent.
Following their season-opener tonight, the Bobcats have three days to prepare for their next non-conference affair. On Tuesday, November 15, Quinnipiac welcomes Yale to the TD Bank Sports Center for a 7 p.m. showdown. The New England Sports Network (NESN) and Sports New York TV (SNY) will air the night's contest that features a promotional 'Bobcat Hat' giveaway at halftime.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu