January 17, 2012

Men's Basketball Seeks Revenge At Sacred Heart On Thursday Night

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (9-8, 2-4 NEC) at
Sacred Heart Pioneers (8-11, 2-4 NEC)
Thursday, January 19, 2012 – 7 p.m.
William H. Pitt Center – Fairfield, Conn.

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Bobcats Seek Revenge Against Sacred Heart On Thursday Night
The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (9-8, 2-4 NEC) will look to avenge its conference-opening loss to Sacred Heart (8-11, 2-4 NEC) earlier in the season. The Bobcats are set for a 7 p.m. tilt on Thursday, January 19, a crucial game for both squads. Both teams are coming off two three-point road losses last week.

All-Time Against Sacred Heart
With their loss in December, the Bobcats fell to 23-38 in the all-time series with the Pioneers and 14-12 in the Division I era. The defeat also snapped a five-game winning streak against Sacred Heart, a stretch that began back in February of 2009. The Bobcats have fared well of late at the William H. Pitt Center though, taking the last three meetings by an average margin of eight points per win.

Scouting The Pioneers
Sacred Heart enters this match-up with a 3-8 record since the two teams first met back in early December. Most recently, the Pioneers participated in a pair of three-point decisions, knocking off Saint Francis (Pa.), 71-68, before falling to Robert Morris, 70-67. SHU junior Shane Gibson was recently named the Choice Hotels Northeast Conference Co-Player of the Week announced by the league office on Monday. Gibson might have the hottest hand in the NEC right now, as the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 27.5 points per game last week. He currently leads the conference in scoring (20.3 points per game) and has made the most three-point field goals to date (50). Sacred Heart's offense has been the driving force behind the team's eight wins this year. The Pioneers lead the league in free-throw percentage (74 percent) and three-point field goal percentage (38 percent) and are third in scoring (73.2 points per game) and field goal percentage (45.7 percent).

Last Time Against SHU
Ike Azotam led the way with 18 points and 16 rebounds, but the Bobcats were defeated by Sacred Heart, 68-55, in their conference-opener at the TD Bank Sports Center. James Johnson also fared well offensively, registering 15 points in reduced minutes due to foul trouble. Garvey Young and Zaid Hearst added five points and two others finished with four. QU controlled the paint, 28-22, the boards, 45-39, and second chance points, 15-3, but surrendered an 11-point edge on the free-throw line. In addition, Sacred Heart finished 42 percent of its shot attempts, compared to just 31 percent from the Bobcats.

On The Air
Saturday's game will be broadcasted online through SHU Athletics 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 Schweizer, will have the play-by-play call, with Bill Mecca and Bob Tipson providing color commentary. Fans can also tune into live stats as well.

Last Time Out Against Saint Francis (Pa.)
Saint Francis held the Bobcats below 30 rebounds for the just the second time this season, as QU dropped a 74-71 decision to the Red Flash on Saturday afternoon. With four seconds showing on the clock and possession of the basketball, QU couldn't find the three-point field goal it needed to send the game into overtime. Ike Azotam led all scorers with 28 points, going 13-of-18 from the floor, grabbed four rebounds and snatched two steals in the losing effort. Dave Johnson poured in 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting to go along with a game-high seven assists and a team-high 6 rebounds.

Making Adjustments
Under Head Coach Tom Moore's tutelage, QU seems to make the necessary adjustments when playing a team for the second time. The Bobcats are 21-10, nearly a .700 winning percentage, over the last four years in the backend of the regular-season, two-game series. This also includes six wins in which the team follows a loss in the first meeting.

Johnson 3 Away From 1,500 Plateau
James Johnson's eight points against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Jan. 14 gives him 1,497 points for his career with the Bobcats. Johnson recently moved ahead of Bill Romano (1,450) for 13th on the all-time scoring list, after tossing in 28 against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Jan. 5. He ranks third on the QU Division I all-time scoring list and remains 24 points away from former teammate Justin Rutty's point total of 1,521.

Rebounding Margin Factors In
Rebounding has become the identity of the Bobcats under the direction of Head Coach Tom Moore. Through 143 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 25 times. In 37 of the 143 games, QU has posted a plus-10 or better rebounding margin, including 10 with plus-20 or better. The Bobcats hold a remarkable 36-1 mark when holding a plus-10 edge and a 9-1 record with plus-20.  

Nothin' But Nylon
The Bobcats made a season-best 58.5 (24-41) percent of their field goals against the NEC's best defensive team in Robert Morris on Jan. 12. It marks the highest field goal percentage since the 2009-10 season, when the Bobcats nailed 60 percent against Sacred Heart. Their performance against the Colonials included a season-high 7-of-10 (70 percent) from behind the arc and a season-high 16-of-24 (66.7 percent) from the floor in the second half. James Johnson went 4-of-4 from long range in the second stanza as well.

61
The Bobcats set a new QU Division I program rebounding record and the nation's seventh highest rebound total of 2011-12 with 61 rebounds against LIU Brooklyn on Jan. 7. It marked just the second time that the team has ever corralled 60 rebounds in a game, breaking the previous high of 60 which was set last year against Lehigh. QU has reached 50 rebounds twice thus far in 2011-12, with the other coming against Yale (54) on Nov. 15. The Bobcats had six 50-rebound games last season, 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 pulled down 50 rebounds in a game 14 times in Tom Moore's five 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.

Among The Elite
Quinnipiac has once again established itself as a national power on the boards. The Bobcats are second in the nation in rebounds per game (43.3) and offensive rebounds per game (16.6) and fourth in rebounding margin (10.4). 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)

Sensational Sophomore
Ike Azotam leads the Northeast Conference and is 27th in the nation in rebounding (9.9 per game), and leads the NEC and is 18th in the country in offensive rebounding (3.7 per game). Azotam posted his ninth double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds against LIU Brooklyn on Jan. 7. He has moved closer to fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. Azotam has reached double-figures in two statistical categories 11 times for the Bobcats, just one behind Alex Francis of Bryant University. He also has the nation's sixth best rebounding performance (18 rebounds against Yale, Nov. 15) and 12th best scoring performance (32 against Niagara, Dec. 22).

Everyone Deserves A Second Chance…Except Them
Quinnipiac is averaging 14.9 second-chance points per outing through 17 games this season. Opponents have been held to just 8.6 second-chance points per game, which includes holding BU to just three on Dec. 31. Furthermore, the Bobcats have registered at least 15 second-chance points 10 times this season, boasting a season-high of 22 on two separate occasions.

Honored By The NEC
Ousmane Drame was named the Choice Hotels/NEC Rookie of the Week on Monday, January 2 by the league office. Drame put together three solid performances over the last two weeks that lifted the Bobcats to three straight wins and earned him the first rookie of the week award of 2012. He nearly posted a double-double per game during the stretch, averaging 9.7 points and 10.3 rebounds. He also averaged two blocks per game and 11 of his 20 rebounds came on the offensive end.

On Deck
After Quinnipiac completes its four-game stint on the road this weekend, the Bobcats return home for a pair of NEC games. QU hosts Mount St. Mary's (7 p.m.) on Thurs., Jan. 26, before taking on Wagner (2 p.m.) on Sat., Jan. 28.  

Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu