Quinnipiac University Bobcats (15-10, 8-6 NEC) vs.
St. Francis (N.Y.) College Terriers (13-12, 10-4 NEC)
Thursday, February 16, 2012 – 7 p.m.
TD Bank Sports Center – Hamden, Conn.
QU Last Five: 4-1
SFC Last Five: 3-2
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Bobcats Look For Fifth Straight Win Against St. Francis (N.Y.) Thursday Night
With its sweep of Central Connecticut State, the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (15-10, 8-6 NEC) clinched a berth in the NEC Tournament and moved to 6-1 over its last seven games. The Bobcats are anxiously awaiting their next opponent, St. Francis (N.Y.) College (13-12, 10-4 NEC), as QU looks for redemption after suffering a one-point loss in their first encounter. The Terriers enter this match-up with a two-game cushion over the Bobcats in the standings, setting up a crucial showdown on Thursday night.
All-Time Against St. Francis (N.Y.)
With the loss earlier in the season, the Bobcats dropped below the .500 mark in the all-time series with SFC. However, QU has eight wins in the last nine meetings, a surge that dates back to the 2005-06 season. Furthermore, Quinnipiac has defeated SFC in double-figures in three of the last four match-ups.
Scouting The Terriers
Selected to finished 11th in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, the Terriers have proved to be the surprise team of the league. SFC currently sits in a two-way tie with Robert Morris for the third spot in the conference standings. After a 10-2 start in the NEC, the Terriers most recently encountered two setbacks to LIU Brooklyn during NEC Rivalry Week, leaving them two games ahead of the Bobcats. Sophomore Ben Mockford and senior Stefan Perunicic will once again be the focus of the Quinnipiac defense on Thursday night. The backcourt duo combines for 24 points per game, each ranking 20th and 21st in the conference, respectively. The Terriers' high-powered offense ranks third in the NEC, due in large part to their efficiency behind the arc. SFC makes over eight threes per game, leaving them atop the league for the category.
Last Time Against SFC
James Johnson posted a game-high 28 points at the Pope Physical Education Center, but the Bobcats surrendered a tough loss to the Terriers, 73-72, earlier this season. Stefan Perunicic's free-throw capped off a three-point play to put the Terriers in front by one with 5.1 seconds left. The Bobcats couldn't convert in the waning seconds, granting SFC a big win on its home court. For the game, Quinnipiac outshot St. Francis, 44.8 percent to 41.1 percent, from the floor and outscored the Terriers off-the-bench, 16-8. The Terriers finished 72 percent (15-25) of their free-throws to just 60 percent (21-29) of the Bobcats, and controlled the boards, 39-38.
On The Air
Thursday's game will be broadcasted live on Quinnipiac Bobcats TV and can be heard 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.
College Sports Madness Honors Azotam
Ike Azotam was named the College Sports Madness NEC Men's Basketball Player of the Week for his exceptional performance on the hardwood last week. The 6-foot-7 Boston, Mass. native averaged 16 points and nine rebounds in the two-game series sweep of Central Connecticut State. Azotam notched his 14th career double-double in the first meeting last Wednesday, pouring in 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the 28-point triumph. The sophomore followed that showing with a 15 point, eight rebound effort in the Sunday matinee at CCSU.
Drame Claims Third NEC Weekly Rookie Accolade
Ousmane Drame was tabbed the Choice Hotels/NEC Rookie of the Week for his efforts last week. The 6-foot-9 forward gave the Bobcats a much-needed boost in a two-game sweep of Central Connecticut during NEC Rivalry Week. The Boston, MA native averaged nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks as the Bobcats stretched their win streak to four games. In Wednesday's game, Drame put on an 11-point, eight-rebound performance in a 28-point victory over the Blue Devils, prevailing 72-44. In a televised affair on Sunday, he capped the sweep with seven points, eight boards and three blocks in a 69-57 victory on the road. Overall, he shot 7-for-12 from the field (.583), and added three assists and a steal. Drame has averaged 10.4 rebounds over his last six games and now ranks eighth in the NEC with 7.3 per game.
Johnson Closes In On No. 10
James Johnson netted 20 points against the Blue Devils on Sunday afternoon, moving into 11th place on the all-time scoring list. Johnson, now with 1,621 career-points, surpassed Carl Miazga's mark of 1,601 with the performance. The 6-foot guard is 20 points shy of Boyd Johnson, who compiled 1,641 total points upon his graduation in 1991. He surpassed Justin Rutty's point total of 1,521 last month, which also moved him ahead into second amongst all-time division I scorers as well.
Trailing by five points with 10:24 seconds showing on the clock, the Bobcats held the Blue Devils to just two points for the remainder of the game. CCSU combined to go 1-for-20 (5 %) down the final stretch, allowing QU to regain the lead with a 16-2 run. On Wednesday night, QU held CCSU to just 26.8 percent shooting from the floor, a feat it accomplished earlier in the year against Yale. 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.
Big Three Stopped
The Bobcats restrained the Blue Devils' three top scorers on Feb. 8, holding them to about 30 points less than their season-average. The trio of Ken Horton, Kyle Vinales and Robby Ptacek combined for 29 points, going 9-of-31 (10 percent) from the floor.
For the first time in Division I program history, the Bobcats held back-to-back opponents, Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth, under 50 points. Quinnipiac took it one step further and added CCSU (44) to the streak on Feb. 8. CCSU, Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth connected on just 30 percent from the field, including a dismal 12.5 percent (5-40) from long distance.
Breaking Rookie Records
Ousmane Drame has been a force on the glass in his rookie season for the Bobcats. Drame hauled in 10 rebounds against Monmouth on Feb. 4, setting a new freshman record for rebounds in a single-season. He hauled in his 167th rebound, surpassing Justin Rutty (144) and Ike Azotam (166), who previously owned the top two slots. He is averaging 7.3 rebounds per game this year, a mark that ranks him ninth in the league and first amongst the NEC's freshman class. In addition to his 183 rebounds, he also owns the rookie record for blocks in a season (20).
Heating Up In February
With their last four wins, the Bobcats improved to 23-5 (.821) in the month of February over the last four seasons. Quinnipiac has managed to hold opponents to just 37 percent from the floor, while shooting at a 45 percent clip.
150 Under His Belt
Head Coach Tom Moore recently appeared in his 150th game on the sideline for the Bobcats. Through 150 games with Quinnipiac, he accumulated an 89-61 record, which results in nearly a .600 winning percentage. Furthermore, Coach Moore fared even better in Northeast Conference competition, holding a 56-29 mark (.659) in five seasons.
Just Like Ike
Ike Azotam leads the Northeast Conference and is tied for 27th in the nation in rebounding (9.6 per game), and leads the NEC and ranks eighth in the country in offensive rebounding (3.8 per game). Azotam posted his 12th double-double of the season with his performance against CCSU on Saturday and moved closer to fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. Azotam has reached double-figures in two statistical categories 14 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 13th best scoring performance (32 against Niagara, Dec. 22).
Among The Elite
Quinnipiac has once again established itself as a national power on the boards. The Bobcats lead the nation in offensive rebounds per game (17.2) and are second in total rebounds per game (44.0) and 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)
Rebounding Margin Factors In
Rebounding has become the identity of the Bobcats under the direction of Head Coach Tom Moore. Through 151 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 26 times. In 42 of the 151 games, QU has posted a plus-10 or better rebounding margin, including 11 with plus-20 or better. The Bobcats hold a remarkable 40-2 mark when holding a plus-10 edge and a 10-1 record with plus-20.
Under Head Coach Tom Moore's tutelage, QU seems to make the necessary adjustments when playing a team for the second time around. The Bobcats are 23-11, a .677 winning percentage, over the last four years in the backend of the regular-season twinbill. This also includes six wins in which the team follows a loss in the first meeting.
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 four times thus far in 2011-12. 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 15 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.
Second Time Around
Quinnipiac's hunger on the offensive glass has them ranked first in the nation for the category. The Bobcats are averaging 15.6 second-chance points per outing through 26 games this season. Opponents have been held to just 8.4 second-chance points per game, which includes holding BU (12/31), SHU (12/3) and FDU (2/4) to just three. Furthermore, the Bobcats have registered at least 15 second-chance points 18 times this season, boasting 20 points or more on four separate occasions.
The Bobcats hit the road for their final NEC Regular-Season game away from home. QU travels to LIU Brooklyn for a 4:30 p.m. showdown against the league's top-ranked team.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu