HAMDEN, Conn. – Sophomore Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) registered a career-high 32 points to lead the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (6-5) past Niagara on Thursday night at the TD Bank Sports Center. Azotam and the Bobcats held off a late charge from the visiting Purple Eagles en route to an 85-81 triumph and their fourth win at home this season.
Azotam nearly posted another double-double, hauling in nine boards to go with his offensive outburst. He finished 13-fo-18 from the floor and added two blocks to his stat line. Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) was terrific in his role as the point guard. He matched a career-high with 10 assists and collected 13 points to complete the double-double. He went a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stipe and only turned the ball over twice on the evening. Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) posted his first career double-double as well. He poured in 13 points, grabbed 10 boards and went 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
The Bobcats raced out of the gate in this one, posting a 15-4 run through the first four minutes of play. Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) capped off the quick start with a three-point field goal, in a surge that featured eight points from Azotam. QU maintained its lead throughout the stanza and carried a 46-37 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Azotam powered his way to 19 points in the opening 20 minutes. QU shot 46 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the free-throw line. Antoine Mason led the Purple Eagles with 14 points.
Conversely to the first half, Niagara captured some momentum with a 25-18 run over the next 12 minutes. Ameen Tanksley completed the run with a layup at the 8:57 mark, leaving a mere two-point lead for the Bobcats.
However, two points would be the closest that the Purple Eagles would get, as QU buckled down on defense to maintain the lead down the stretch. Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.), Dave Johnson and Drame calmly went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the waning seconds to solidify the win.
Quinnipiac outshot the Purple Eagles, 46 percent to 43 percent, out-rebounded Niagara, 48-30, and controlled the paint, 44-30.
Defensively, QU held Niagara's leading scorer, Juan'ya Green, in check all night. Young was matched up with Green for much of the contest and held him to just 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting. Green entered the game as the nation's second leading freshman in points per game (19.9).
James Johnson also fared well for the Bobcats, as the senior guard compiled 14 points, three assists and four rebounds. Young chimed in with eight points and seven boards, while Hearst and Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) combined for five points.
Niagara, now 4-8 on the season, was led by Mason's team-high 22 points. Three others finished with double-figures in the losing effort.
QU will enjoy some time away for the holiday weekend before returning to the court on Wednesday, December 28. The Bobcats head to Hamilton, N.Y. for their final non-conference road game of the 2011-12 schedule. Tip-off against the Colgate University Raiders is set for 7 p.m. at Cotterell Court in the Reid Athletic Center.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu