February 22, 2012

Men's Basketball Hosts Saint Francis (Pa.) Thursday Night

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (15-12, 8-8 NEC) vs.
Saint Francis (Pa.) Red Flash (6-21, 5-11 NEC)
Thursday, February 23, 2012 – 7:04 p.m.
TD Bank Sports Center – Hamden, Conn.
QU Last Five: 3-2
SFU Last Five: 1-4

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Bobcats Host Saint Francis (Pa.) Thursday Night The Bank
The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (15-12, 8-8 NEC) will compete in its final regular-season action this weekend at the TD Bank Sports Center. The Bobcats welcome the two Pennsylvania teams to Hamden, beginning with the Red Flash of Saint Francis (Pa.) (6-21, 5-11 NEC) on Thursday night. The 7:04 p.m. tilt serves as a rematch from earlier this year, where the Red Flash captured a mere three-point triumph in Loretto, Pa. 

All-Time Against Saint Francis (Pa.)
Even with the setback earlier this year, the Bobcats still hold an impressive 17-8 record all-time against the Red Flash. QU is 8-3 over the last 11 games, which also includes winning five of the last seven meetings. In the two teams latest encounter at the Bank, the Bobcats prevailed with a 20-point, 75-55 victory last season.

Scouting The Red Flash
Despite losing junior standout Umar Shannon in the first game of the season, the Red Flash made a surprising push for the NEC Tournament. However, SFU's loss to Robert Morris in the second game of Rivalry Week eliminated the Red Flash from postseason contention. In Shannon's absence, sophomore Scott Eatherton has emerged into the team's go-to-player on the offensive end. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 14.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, two figures that are even higher in conference competition. In their first meeting back in January, the Red Flash accomplished something that only four Bobcat opponents have done all year. The NEC's worst rebounding team out-rebounded the league's best rebounding team, 30-29, holding Quinnipiac to just nine offensive rebounds. Offensively and defensively as a team, the Red Flash rank among the bottom three teams in scoring offense and scoring defense.    

Last Time Against SFU
Ike Azotam finished with a game-high 28 points, but the Bobcats were defeated on the road at Saint Francis (Pa.), 74-71, at DeGol Arena on January 14. Azotam went 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 six rebounds. James Johnson scratched out eight points, while Justin Harris finished with six points and five rebounds. Zaid Hearst added five.

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.

Career Day
Freshmen Ousmane Drame and Zaid Hearst put together tremendous outings at LIU Brooklyn on Saturday. Drame collected his fourth double-double of the season with a career-high 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Hearst chimed in with career-highs in points (19) and rebounds (8). The duo combined to go 16-of-23 (.696) from the floor and grabbed six offensive rebounds.

Big Dog
Ike Azotam has been a force underneath for the Bobcats this season and currently leads the Northeast Conference in double-doubles. He collected his 13th double-double of the campaign against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Feb. 16 and now remains just four behind the QU single-season mark set by Justin Rutty in the 2009-10 season. With his performance against the Terriers, he moved into a two-way tie for fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. Azotam has reached double-figures in two statistical categories 15 times for the Bobcats, tying Alex Francis of Bryant University.

Johnson Cracks Top 10
James Johnson netted nine points against the Blackbirds on Saturday afternoon, moving into a two-way tie for 10th place on the all-time scoring list. Johnson, now with 1,641 career-points, sits next to 1991 graduate Boyd Johnson on the list. 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.

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 in the second week of February. 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, 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 against the Blue Devils during Rivalry Week. The 6-foot-9 forward gave the Bobcats a much-needed boost in a two-game sweep of Central Connecticut. The Boston, MA native averaged nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks as the Bobcats stretched their win streak to four games. In the first game, Drame put on an 11-point, eight-rebound performance in a 28-point victory over the Blue Devils. In a televised affair later in the week, 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.

Heating Up In February
With four wins in the month thus far, the Bobcats improved to 23-7 (.767) in the month of February over the last four seasons. Quinnipiac has managed to hold opponents to just 38 percent from the floor, while shooting at a 44 percent clip.  

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 (16.9) and are second in total rebounds per game (43.8) and rebounding margin (10.5). 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 153 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 26 times. In 42 of the 153 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.  

Making Adjustments
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 23-13, a .639 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.

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 in their first meeting. 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 15.5 second-chance points per outing through 27 games this season. Opponents have been held to just 8.7 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 19 times this season, boasting 20 points or more on five separate occasions.  

150 Under His Belt
Head Coach Tom Moore appeared in his 150th game this season 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 29th in the nation in rebounding (9.6 per game), and leads the NEC and ranks 13th in the country in offensive rebounding (3.8 per game). 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).

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 7.4 rebounds per game this year, a mark that ranks him sixth in the league and first amongst the NEC's freshman class. In addition to his 201 rebounds, he also owns the rookie record for blocks in a season (22).

Stifling Defense
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. In their second meeting for NEC Rivalry Week, 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.

On Deck
The Bobcats host Robert Morris Saturday morning, a game that will be televised on ESPNU. Prior to the 11 a.m. tip-off, the men's basketball program will honor its two senior class members in James Johnson and Kevin Tarca at the TD Bank Sports Center.

 Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu