Men's Basketball Opens NEC Tournament At St. Francis (N.Y.) Thursday Night

No. 5 Quinnipiac University Bobcats (17-12, 10-8 NEC) at
No. 4 St. Francis (N.Y.) College Terriers (15-14, 12-6 NEC)
Thursday, March 1, 2012 – 7:00 p.m.
Pope Physical Education Center – Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.
QU Last Five: 3-2
SFC Last Five: 2-3

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QU Meets St. Francis (N.Y.) In NEC Quarterfinals On Thursday Night
With a wild conclusion to the end of the 2011-12 campaign, the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (17-12, 10-8 NEC) played its way into the fifth seed of the upcoming Northeast Conference Tournament. The Bobcats drew the much-anticipated 4/5 match-up of the single-elimination playoff, and will meet St. Francis (N.Y.) College on Thursday night in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. The third meeting of the season between the two schools is set for 7 p.m. at the Pope Physical Education Center.

2012 Northeast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament
(all games played at home of higher seed)

Quarterfinals
Thursday, March 1
#8 Sacred Heart at #1 Long Island - 7:00 pm
#7 Central Connecticut at #2 Wagner - 7:00 pm
#6 Monmouth at #3 Robert Morris - 7:00 pm
#5 Quinnipiac at #4 St. Francis (NY) - 7:00 pm

Semifinals
Sunday, March 4
Lowest Remaining Seed at Highest Remaining Seed - 12 or 6:00 pm*
3rd Highest Remaining Seed at 2nd Highest Remaining Seed - 12 or 6:00 pm*
* Games to be televised on MSG and Fox College Sports (FCS)

Championship
Wednesday, March 7

All-Time Against St. Francis (N.Y.)
The quarterfinal showdown between the Bobcats and Terriers will mark the first postseason meeting between the two programs. St. Francis (N.Y.) took both encounters in regular-season play, however, have not fared well with the Bobcats through previous years. STC snapped an eight-game slide against Quinnipiac earlier this season, a stretch that dated back to the 2005-06 campaign.

Scouting The Terriers
The St. Francis (N.Y.) College Terriers have been the surprise team of the league this year. Selected to finish 11th in the NEC Preseason Poll after losing a pair of all-league standouts to graduation, second-year Head Coach Glenn Braica guided the Terriers to 12 conference wins, their best total since the 2003-04 campaign. However, SFC's quest for its first NEC Championship begins after a disappointing finish to the regular season. St. Francis (N.Y.) dropped its final two games, including its season-finale to the NEC's 11th ranked team in Fairleigh Dickinson, allowing Robert Morris to avoid an apprehensive match-up with the surging Bobcats. The Terriers' high-powered offense may also be of concern to SFC fans on Thursday night. St. Francis (N.Y.) combined for a frigid 32 percent shooting and averaged 20 turnovers in its last two outings. On the other hand, SFC has fared well against Quinnipiac this year, including a one-point, comeback victory in Brooklyn Heights in their first meeting. Senior Stefan Perunicic scored 21 points on 6-of-11 (.545) shooting, including a go-ahead, three-point play with 5.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

Last Time Against SFC
The Bobcats suffered tough setback to St. Francis (N.Y.), 64-56, at the TD Bank Sports Center in their latest rendezvous. In a game where scoring did not come easy for Quinnipiac, Ike Azotam led the way with 15 rebounds and 12 points on the night. Garvey Young chimed in with 14 points and five rebounds, while James Johnson scratched out 11 points in the losing effort. Turnovers really plagued the Bobcats on the night, a major factor in the loss. QU coughed up the ball 20 times in the game, easily setting a new season-high for the category. In addition, the nation's best offensive rebounding team was held to just seven second-chance points on nine offensive rebounds. QU edged SFC on the glass by one, nine below its rebounding margin average.

Last Time Out Against The Colonials
The QU Men's Basketball Program honored its two senior class members James Johnson and Kevin Tarca in the best way possible on Saturday morning, as the Bobcats topped Robert Morris, 73-69, at the TD Bank Sports Center on Senior Day. In a contest that was featured nationally on ESPNU, Johnson matched a season-high with 28 points to help lock QU into the fifth seed NEC Tourney. The game featured a physical, back-and-forth affair for much of the 40 minutes. After surrendering a 17-15 edge on the glass in the first half, the nation's second best rebounding team turned it around in the latter frame. The Bobcats captured a plus-13 rebounding margin in the second stanza, including 14 on the offensive end. QU accumulated 23 second-chance points, which proved to be a major factor in the end result.

On The Air
Thursday's game will be broadcasted live on St. Francis 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 the insightful Bill Mecca providing color commentary. Fans can also tune into live stats as well.

NEC Tournament History
Quinnipiac has compiled an 8-8 record in the NEC Tournament, reaching the championship game twice. The Bobcats have reached the semifinals four times in their last six tournament appearances.

Bobcats Honored By NEC
James Johnson and Ike Azotam were named to the All-NEC Second Team by the league's coaches, as announced by the conference office on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The award is the second straight for Johnson and first for Azotam. Tom Moore has now placed a player on the All-Conference Team in each of his five seasons with the program.

Division I Scoring Record In Reach
James Johnson netted 28 points against the Colonials on Saturday, leaving the senior guard 11 points shy of the all-time QU Division I scoring record. Now with 1,674 points, he is within striking distance of 2005 graduate Rob Monroe's 1,685 point total. Furthermore, with a 14-point performance on Thursday night, Johnson will move into sole possession of seventh place on the all-time scoring list.

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 (43.4) and rebounding margin (10.8). 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)

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 remains one behind fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. Azotam has reached double-figures in two statistical categories 15 times for the Bobcats, chasing Alex Francis of Bryant University.

Heating Up In February
With six wins in the month thus far, the Bobcats improved to 25-7 (.781) 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 46 percent clip.  

Rebounding Margin Factors In
Rebounding has become the identity of the Bobcats under the direction of Head Coach Tom Moore. Through 155 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 26 times. In 44 of the 155 games, QU has posted a plus-10 or better rebounding margin, including 11 with plus-20 or better. The Bobcats hold a remarkable 42-2 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 25-13, a .658 winning percentage, over the last four years in the backend of the regular-season twinbill. This also includes seven wins in which the team follows a loss in the first meeting.

Just Like Ike
Ike Azotam ranks second in the Northeast Conference and is 29th in the nation in rebounding (9.5 per game), and leads the NEC and is tied for 15th in the country in offensive rebounding (3.7 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).

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 28 games this season. Opponents have been held to just 9.0 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 20 times this season, boasting 20 points or more on six 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.

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 tied for sixth in the league and first amongst the NEC's freshman class. In addition to his 215 rebounds, he also owns the rookie record for blocks in a season (26).

Under 50…Again
For the first time in Division I program history, the Bobcats held back-to-back opponents, Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth, under 50 points. Quinnipiac added CCSU (44) to the list on Feb. 8 and tacked on one more after holding Saint Francis (Pa.) to 44 on Feb. 23. The four teams connected on just 31 percent from the field, including a dismal 12.0 percent (5-40) from long distance.

Career Day
Freshmen Ousmane Drame and Zaid Hearst put together tremendous outings at LIU Brooklyn on Feb. 18. 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. 

On Deck
With a win on Thursday night, the Northeast Conference Tournament would resume on Sunday, March 4 with the semifinals. The playoff format requires a reseeding of teams, leaving a potential opponent as undetermined. For all the latest news, scores and highlights, please visit www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com.

Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu