Men's Basketball Tops Bryant In Overtime Thriller, 78-71

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) moved ahead of former teammate Justin Rutty for 12th on the all-time scoring list with a team-high 23 points on Saturday afternoon, as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated Bryant in an overtime thriller at the Chace Athletic Center. The Bobcats outscored the Bulldogs 15-8 in the extra frame en route to the 78-71 NEC triumph. QU collected its 10th win of the season with the result, improving to 10-9 overall and 3-5 in league play.

Johnson, now with 1,536 career points, went 9-of-24 from the floor, 3-of-3 from the line, grabbed three rebounds and dished out three assists in 44 minutes on the hardwood. Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) added 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) matched a career-high for the third time this season with 18 points and five boards. Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) hauled in a team-high 13 rebounds and tallied five hard-fought points underneath.

With 57 seconds showing on the clock and the scoreboard reading 61-61, the Bobcats went to James Johnson in their half-court set. Johnson craftily made his way into the lane and drew a foul with 36 seconds remaining; earning two attempts from the free-throw line. He calmly knocked down both shots, granting QU a 63-61 lead.

In their ensuing possession, the Bulldogs came down the court and frantically tried to penetrate the Bobcats perimeter defense. Unable to do so, Raphael Jordan found space behind the three-point line, missed his long-range attempt, but was fouled on a controversial call that awarded him three shots from the line. Jordan knocked down 2-of-3 from the stripe, leaving each team with 63 points. The two teams couldn't score in the final 16 seconds, needing overtime to determine a winner.

Despite trailing by one with three minutes left on the clock, Quinnipiac clearly had the better of the play in the extra stint. James Johnson sparked a 10-2 surge with a deep-three pointer from the wing, putting the visitors in front by two; a lead that they would never relinquish. The Bobcats recorded eight points off turnovers and five second chance points during the five-minute span.

For the game, Quinnipiac outshot Bryant, 39.4 percent to 36.4 percent, from the floor, 21-5 on second chance points, 15-6 on points off turnovers and 26-16 in points in the paint. QU also controlled the boards, 51-34, which included 18 on the offensive end.

Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) came up big for the Bobcats in overtime with five points. He finished with seven in the contest. Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) had four and Marquis Barnett (Queens, N.Y.) chimed in with two.

The opening 20 minutes featured strong spurts from both teams, first from the visiting Bobcats. QU garnered a 14-5 advantage at the 12 minute mark after a pair of free-throws from Azotam. However, sparked by Alex Francis, Bryant quickly erased its deficit with a 13-4 surge, knotting the score up at 18 apiece. The Bobcats regained their composure and outscored the Bulldogs by five in the closing minutes. QU carried a 34-29 lead into the locker rooms as the halftime whistle sounded.

Bryant, now 2-17 overall, 1-7 in the NEC, was led by Francis who finished with a game-high 30 points. The Bulldogs will play their next three games at home, beginning with a non-conference affair against intrastate rival Brown.

QU is back in action with a pair of NEC home games next weekend. The Bobcats host Mount St. Mary's on Thursday night before taking on Wagner on Saturday afternoon. For all the latest news, scores and highlights pertaining to the men's basketball program, visit www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com.

Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu