#5 Quinnipiac University Bobcats (18-12, 10-8 NEC) at
#1 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (23-8, 16-2 NEC)
Sunday, March 4, 2012 – 6:00 p.m.
Wellness Center – Brooklyn, N.Y.
QU Last Five: 3-2
LIU Last Five: 4-1
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#5 QU Challenges #1 LIU In NEC Semifinals On Sunday
The fifth-seeded Quinnipiac University men's basketball team (18-12, 10-8 NEC) will challenge No. 1 LIU Brooklyn (23-8, 16-2 NEC) in the Northeast Conference Semifinals on Sunday evening. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m., with all the action available live on MSG and Fox College Sports (FCS). The Bobcats defeated No. 4 St. Francis (N.Y.) 80-72 on Thursday night, while LIU advanced with an 80-68 decision over No. 8 Sacred Heart. The Blackbirds took both regular season meetings from the Bobcats, but have yet to face QU at full strength. The return of junior forward Jamee Jackson undoubtedly changes LIU's scouting report.
All-Time Against LIU Brooklyn
The Bobcats hold a 15-13 record all-time against the Blackbirds; a series that saw a Bobcats' 10-game winning streak snapped a year ago. With its two wins this season, LIU has now taken the last three games from Quinnipiac, which hasn't happened since the 1998-99 campaign. However, QU has fared better in postseason play, eliminating LIU in both NEC postseason encounters. The Bobcats ousted the Blackbirds in back-to-back seasons, beginning in 2009 with a thrilling overtime triumph in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Scouting The Blackbirds
LIU Brooklyn lived up to its preseason hype by winning the Northeast Conference regular season title to earn the No. 1 seed in the NEC Tournament. The Blackbirds are in search for its second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth, a feat that has only been accomplished five times in NEC history. As the top seed, LIU Brooklyn will host games as long as it remains alive in the single-elimination playoff. Advantage goes to the Blackbirds, who have found the magic formula for winning in the Wellness Center. LIU is currently riding a 25-game winning streak at home, posing as the second-longest in the nation behind Kentucky (51). LIU was last tripped up at the WRAC on December 8, 2010 in an 88-82 setback to Iona. Although dominant at times in the regular season, LIU Brooklyn has looked a bit shaky in its last two outings. The Blackbirds suffered a 28-point loss to Monmouth in the season-finale, followed by a closely played quarterfinal game against Sacred Heart. As for the match-up with the Bobcats, will offense or defense prevail? LIU offers the most potent attack in the conference, while the Bobcats' defense ranks atop the league.
Last Time Against LIU
Freshmen Zaid Hearst and Ousmane Drame each cashed in with career-high point totals on Feb. 18, but the Bobcats were outlasted by LIU Brooklyn and its high-powered offense, 99-89, at the Wellness Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. In their best offensive performance of the season, QU placed four Bobcats in double-digits by the end of the night. Ike Azotam led the way with 22 point, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block in the losing effort. As a collective unit, Quinnipiac connected on 52.8 percent (38-72) of its field goal attempts, a number that was complemented with 18 assists. For the game, QU outrebounded LIU, 40-31, which included 17 on the offensive glass for the nation's best team in that particular category. The Bobcats also controlled a 22-13 edge in second chance points and owned the paint, 46-36.
Last Time Out Against The Terriers
The Bobcats went on the road and defeated St. Francis (N.Y.), 80-72, in the quarterfinals of the Northeast Conference Tournament on Thursday night. James Johnson netted 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists in front of a packed house at the Pope Physical Education Center. Ike Azotam posted his 16th career double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Zaid Hearst chimed in with 14 points, including three from behind the arc. The Terriers were looking for their third win of the season against the Bobcats after taking the first two meetings. Rebounding and turnovers proved to be the difference in those contests, two statistics that went in favor of the Bobcats this time around. QU committed just 11 turnovers and snatched a 48-36 edge on the glass, including 20 rebounds on the offensive end.
On The Air
Sunday's game will be broadcasted live on MSG and Fox College Sports (FCS) and can be heard on AM 1220 WQUN by clicking the appropriate links posted on www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com. Fans can also tune into live stats as well.
Best Of The Best
James Johnson netted 22 points against the Terriers on Thursday, leaving the senior guard atop the QU Division I Scoring List. Now with 1,696 points, he surpassed 2005 graduate Rob Monroe's 1,685 point total with his first field goal in the second half. Furthermore, Johnson moved into sole possession of seventh place on the all-time scoring list.
NEC Tournament History
Quinnipiac has compiled a 9-8 record in the NEC Tournament, reaching the championship game twice. The Bobcats have now reached the semifinals five times in their last seven tournament appearances.
Freshmen Ousmane Drame and Zaid Hearst have been outstanding down the season's final stretch. Zaid Hearst is averaging 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds over his last four games, including a career-high 19 points at LIU on Feb. 18. Drame has also been instrumental in QU's recent success, as the Boston, Mass. native is averaging 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds over the last four games.
Possession Is Key
In their final regular season meeting with St. Francis (N.Y.), they lost the battle on the boards and committed a season-high 20 turnovers. On Thursday night in the quarterfinals, QU coughed the ball up just 11 times and sustained a plus-12 advantage on the glass.
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 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.
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 (17.0) and are second in total rebounds per game (43.6) 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)
Ike Azotam has been a force underneath for the Bobcats this season and currently leads the Northeast Conference in double-doubles. He collected his 14th double-double of the campaign against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Thursday night and now remains just three behind the QU single-season mark set by Justin Rutty in 2010. With his performance against the Terriers, he moved into a tie for fourth place in career double-doubles among active NEC players. Azotam has reached double-figures in two statistical categories 16 times for the Bobcats, sitting alongside of Bryant's Alex Francis.
Heating Up In February
With six wins in the month, 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 156 games with Moore at the helm, Quinnipiac has only failed to out-rebound an opponent 26 times. In 45 of the 156 games, QU has posted a plus-10 or better rebounding margin, including 11 with plus-20 or better. The Bobcats hold a remarkable 43-2 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 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 and a 3-2 mark when facing a team for the third time.
Just Like Ike
Ike Azotam leads the Northeast Conference and is 30th in the nation in rebounding (9.6 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 30 games this season. Opponents have been held to just 9.1 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 7.3 rebounds per game this year, a mark that ranks him eighth in the league and first amongst the NEC's freshman class. In addition to his 220 rebounds, he also owns the rookie record for blocks in a season (26).
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.
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.
With a win on Thursday night, the Northeast Conference Tournament would resume on Wednesday, March 7 with the finals. The championship game will be broadcasted live on ESPN2 and take place at the venue of the highest seed remaining. For all the latest news, scores and highlights, please visit www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu