Second-Half Surge Not Enough; Men's Basketball Falls Short To UMass, 72-67

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AMHERST, Mass. – The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team mounted a furious second-half comeback on Saturday night, but couldn't overcome a 16-point deficit to the Minutemen of Massachusetts, snapping a three game winning streak. The final score of the game was 72-67, a prime time affair that was broadcasted on NESN. With the loss, the Bobcats dropped to 5-5 on the season and UMass improved to 9-3.

James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) led the Bobcats with a 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-9 from behind the arc. Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) posted another double-double with 22 points and 13 boards, as the duo accounted for 65 percent of the team's total offense. Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) finished with five points and nine rebounds and Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.) also chimed in with five points. Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) had four points and seven rebounds and Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) added four points and eight boards.

The Bobcats jumped out to a 40-36 lead at halftime, as they fared extremely well from the field. Led by Johnson and Azotam who combined for 26 points, Quinnipiac shot a first half season-high 55.2 percent from the floor. The opening stanza never saw a lead of more than six points, with the Bobcats holding on for a 40-36 halftime advantage.

Conversely to the first half, the second frame featured a blistering start for the hosting Minutemen. UMass fired off an 18-0 run through the first media timeout en route to a 54-40 lead. The UMass full-court press forced the Bobcats into several turnovers, where Chaz Williams and the UMass offense took advantage. UMass entered the game scoring over 76 points per game, a mark that leads the Atlantic-10 Conference.

Quinnipiac would settle down however, as Johnson and Azotam took control offensively. The Bobcats chipped away using tenacious defense to limit the high-powered attack of the Minutemen. QU cut its 16-point deficit down to just three points, 70-67, when Azotam capped off a mini 9-1 run with a lay-up with 58 seconds showing on the clock.

Unfortunately for QU the surge ended right there, as the Bobcats were unable to score again. The Minutemen knocked down two free-throws in the waning seconds to solidify their third win in a row.

UMass, a team that utilizes a deep bench, recorded 24 points from its reserves compared to 12 from QU's bench. The Bobcats controlled the glass, 47-42, second chance points, 15-13, and points underneath, 32-28.

Williams led the Minutemen with 14 points, followed by 13 from Terrell Vinson and 12 from Raphiael Putney. UMass will play host to Davidson on Thursday, December 22 at 7 p.m.

The Bobcats return to the TD Bank Sports Center for their next contest. Quinnipiac welcomes Niagara on Thursday, December 22 for a 7 p.m. start. For all the latest news pertaining to the men's basketball program, visit www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com.