Quinnipiac University Bobcats (5-5, 1-1 NEC) vs.
Niagara University Purple Eagles (4-7, 0-2 MAAC)
Thursday, December 22, 2011 – 7:00 p.m.
TD Bank Sports Center – Hamden, Conn.
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Men's Basketball Hosts Niagara On Thursday Night; Discounted Tickets For All
The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team had its three-game winning streak snapped last time out, but will look to bounce back against Niagara on December 22. The Bobcats have three games remaining on their non-conference schedule, beginning with the Purple Eagles at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening. All fans attending the game will receive discounted ticket prices. Adults will pay just $5 and children under the age of 12 will be free of charge.
All-Time Against Niagara
Last season marked the first time that the two programs squared off on the hardwood. In the contest, hot shooting propelled the Bobcats to a big triumph in Niagara University, N.Y. for a 1-0 lead in the all-time series.
Scouting The Purple Eagles
Niagara recently snapped a three-game skid at the University of Hartford, but followed with a 13-point loss to Drexel last Tuesday. Since then, the Purple Eagles have enjoyed some time off, leaving a nine-day break from competition. The squad has been led by Juan'ya Green; a freshman guard out of Philadelphia, Pa. Green is off to a tremendous start averaging 19.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He is joined by two others who are consistently scoring in double-figures. Fellow guards Antoine Mason and Marvin Jordan are bringing in 14 and 11.6 points, respectively, per game. As a team Niagara attempts just fewer than 21 three-pointers per game, so for the second game in a row, defending the arc will be a priority for the QU defense. Conversely though, the Purple Eagles struggle defending the long-range shot. Opponents are shooting trifectas at a 42 percent clip against Niagara, making just over nine of them per outing.
Last Season Against Niagara
Last year James Johnson knocked down seven three-point field goals en route to a game-high 23 points, as the Bobcats defeated Niagara, 88-63, at the Taps Gallagher Center in Niagara University, N.Y. For the game, the Bobcats outshot the Purple Eagles, 42.9 percent (30-70) to 33.3 percent (21-63) from the floor, 50.0 percent (12-24) to 16.0 percent (4-25) from long range, and 66.7 percent (16-24) to 63.0 percent (17-27) from the free-throw line. Johnson led a group of four Bobcats to finish with double-figures. He finished 8-of-14 from the floor, 7-of-11 from behind the arc, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists.
On The Air
Thursday's game will be aired on Quinnipiac Bobcats TV and can be heard live on AM 1220 WQUN by clicking the appropriate links posted on www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com. The voice of the Bobcats, Bill Schweitzer, will have the TV play-by-play call with Bill Mecca and Bob Tipson providing color commentary. Live stats will also be provided.
Last Time Out Against UMass
QU mounted a furious second-half comeback on Saturday night, but couldn't overcome a 16-point deficit to the Minutemen of Massachusetts; falling short in a 72-67 decision at the William D. Mullins Memorial Center. James Johnson and Ike Azotam led the Bobcats with 22 points each. Garvey Young finished with five points and nine rebounds and Jamee Jackson also chimed in with five points. Dave Johnson had four points and seven rebounds and Ousmane Drame added four points and eight boards. The Bobcats controlled the glass, 47-42, second chance points, 15-13, and points underneath, 32-28.
Among The Elite
Quinnipiac has once again established itself as a national power on the boards. The Bobcats lead the nation in rebounds (44.4) and offensive rebounds per game (17.4), and are sixth in rebounding margin (10.9). This marks the third consecutive season that QU has cracked the top-10 in rebounding; including a second place finish (42.3 per game) in 2010-11. (Behind North Carolina – 42.5 per game)
James Johnson and Ike Azotam each scored 22 points against UMass on Dec. 17, a game that was televised on NESN. Johnson finished 8-of-16 from the floor, including 5-of-9 from behind the arc, while Azotam posted another double-double with 13 boards; as the duo accounted for 65 percent of the team's total offense. Last season, Johnson and Justin Rutty accomplished the 20-20 feat at Long Island on Feb. 5.
Johnson Moves Past Mason
James Johnson's 15 points against Hartford on Dec. 6 moved him into sole possession of 14th on the all-time career scoring list. Johnson (1,376) surpassed Kason Mims' 1,320 mark with the performance, which also moved him into fourth place in QU's Division I scoring leaders category.
Just Like Ike
Ike Azotam is sixth in the country in offensive rebounding (4.4 per game) and ninth in total rebounding (10.6 per game). He has posted seven double-doubles thus far, ranking him in a four-way tie for fourth in the nation in the category. This includes careers-highs in points (22) and rebounds (18) against UMass on Dec. 17 and Yale on Nov. 15, respectively. Furthermore, with his performance against the Minutemen, he moved closer to fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. He collected his ninth career double-double, when he netted 22 points and hauled in 13 rebounds.
Rebounding Margin Factors In
Rebounding has become the identity of the Bobcats under the direction of Head Coach Tom Moore. Through 136 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 23 times. In 33 of the 136 games, QU has posted a plus-10 or better rebounding margin, including seven with plus-20 or better. The Bobcats hold a remarkable 33-1 mark when holding a plus-10 edge and a 7-1 record with plus-20.
Stellar D All Around
The Bobcats held the Catamounts to just 7.7 percent from behind the arc on Dec. 11. That figure marked the lowest three-point field goal percentage by an opponent since January 27, 2002, when QU held Wagner to just 6.2 percent (1-16) from long distance. Furthermore, the Bobcats held Vermont two just two field goals over the final 10:42 of the second half. The Catamounts managed just 12 points on 2-of-10 shooting during the stretch. Eight of the 12 points came from the free-throw line.
Lights, Camera, Jackson
Jamee Jackson was dominant in all facets of the game on Dec. 11 at Vermont. He compiled 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals on the afternoon. He finished 8-of-15 from the floor, 4-of-5 from the charity stripe and was stellar behind the ball as well. Two games earlier against Bryant on Dec. 3; he netted 21 points going 8-of-13 from the floor to lead the Bobcats to the team's first conference win. His 21 points marked a new career-high, as Jackson was one rebound shy of his first career double-double. The junior out of Newark, N.J. has reached two milestones this season. Jackson collected his 400th point against Hartford, Dec. 6, and 300th rebound against Sacred Heart, Dec. 1.
Big Night For "Z"
Zaid Hearst tossed in a career-high 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in the triumph at Hartford on Dec. 6. He went 4-of-8 from the floor, 5-of-6 from the free throw line and snatched two steals. He recorded 10 points in the first half and also knocked down a three in his third career start for the Bobcats.
Nothing Short Of Perfect
Junior Dave Johnson made all eight of his free-throw attempts against Bryant on Dec. 3. About a year ago, former teammate Justin Rutty went 11-of-11 from the line, marking the last time a QU player was perfect through at least eight attempts. Johnson finished with 11 points and three assists in the triumph.
Johnson, Azotam Earn Monthly Accolades
James Johnson and Ike Azotam were tabbed to the CollegeHoops.Net November NEC All-Conference Team, announced December 1. Johnson averaged 19 points, four rebounds and 3.3 assists in four games through November. He shot 41 percent both overall and from three-point land, and totaled six steals in the month. Azotam also fared well throughout the month of November, aiding Johnson on the offensive end. He averaged 13.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in five games for the Bobcats, including individual career-highs in points (20) and rebounds (18) against American and Yale, respectively.
Freshman Nate Gause granted the Bobcats a much needed spark off the bench at American on Nov. 22. Gause reset his career-high in points with 14 on 6-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc. He recorded double-digits in his three of his first four games and ranked 30th in the league in scoring during the stretch (9.8 points per game). Fellow teammate James Johnson began his career by scoring double-digits in four of his first seven games.
Depth Not An Issue
In the game against Navy on Nov. 19, all 16 members of the team saw time on the hardwood. 12 different members recorded at least one point, the first time since November 22, 2005 in a 106-57 win against Concordia.
QU held Yale to just 26.8 percent shooting overall and 22.6 percent in the second half of play on Nov. 15. The Bobcats have not had a more dominant display of defense since the 2008-09 campaign, when they limited the Terriers of St. Francis (N.Y.) to 25.4 percent shooting overall and just 21.9 percent in the first half.
The Bobcats grabbed 54 rebounds in their home-opener against Yale on Nov. 15. QU nabbed 50 or more boards in six games last season, including a program Division I record 60 against Lehigh on Dec. 7, 2010. Quinnipiac had three 50-rebound games in all of 2009-10, and never had three 50-rebound games in 11 prior seasons at Division I. Quinnipiac has corralled 50 rebounds in a game 12 times in Tom Moore's four years at QU. In nine years prior at Division I, QU had just five 50-rebound games, with only two coming against teams classified at Division I at the time of competition.
No Stage Fright Here
In their first career game with a Bobcats' uniform draped over their shoulders, freshmen Nate Gause and Zaid Hearst sparked the QU offense against Fairfield on Nov. 11. Gause dropped 12 points, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc and nabbed three rebounds in his inaugural game. Zaid Hearst made his first career start in the season-opener and fared well in the back court. Hearst had six points, seven rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes of action.
The Bobcats return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 28 with their final non-conference road game of the 2011-12 schedule. The Bobcats head to Hamilton, N.Y. for a clash with the Raiders of Colgate University. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Cotterell Court in the Reid Athletic Center.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu