ST. THOMAS, US Virgin Islands – The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team outlasted Iona College in overtime on Saturday night, 98-92, to advance to the semifinals of the 2012 Paradise Jam and an intrastate clash with nationally-ranked No. 23 UConn – a game set for Sunday night that will be televised all over the world on CBS Sports Network.
"It's a great opportunity for Quinnipiac to play against a team as storied as UConn," said head coach Tom Moore, who inched to within five wins of 100 for his career with the Bobcats. "It's a great opportunity for us as our program continues to grow. We tried to treat this trip as a chance to promote the Quinnipiac name, and I think playing on national television against a team like this will help that."
In order to set up the Connecticut showdown, Quinnipiac had the tall task of defeating a potent offense from Iona College. The Bobcats were up to the challenge behind double-digit performances from five different players, including 21 points and 10 rebounds from Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) and 17 points and 10 rebounds from Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.). Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) chipped in with 17 points and five rebounds, while Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) added 12 points and a game-high six assists and Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) finished with 10 points and one block.
A back-and-forth affair all night long, Quinnipiac looked as though it would walk away with a victory in regulation after sustaining an advantage for much of the second half. Nonetheless, Arizona State transfer Lamont Jones single-handedly kept Iona in the game, pouring in 40 points on 13-of-28 shooting - none bigger than a game-tying dagger with four seconds showing on the clock. Dave Johnson's last-stitch effort came up short in the waning seconds, leaving an overtime period to determine the winner.
Resilience was the term the Coach Moore referred to in the postgame press conference, as Quinnipiac buckled down and refocused for the extra frame. The Bobcats held Iona to 1-of-12 shooting (8.3 percent) in the added five minutes, allowing Quinnipiac to pull away. Hearst and Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) granted QU a six point lead with back-to-back three-point field goals, and Azotam extended the margin to eight with two gritty buckets underneath. The eight-point edge was too much for Iona, leaving Quinnipiac with bragging rights in the first meeting between the two schools.
Two key statistics proved advantageous for the Bobcats; free-throw shooting and field goal percentage defense. Quinnipiac knocked down 26-31 (83.9 percent) from the charity stripe, which included a 7-for-10 stint in the closing minutes of overtime. Defensively, the Bobcats held the Gaels to 39 percent for the game – a statistic that the team strives to keep under 40 percent. The Bobcats controlled the paint, 40-32, the glass, 38-34, and points off the bench, 28-8. Shannon and Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) accounted for 16 off the bench with with eight points apiece.
Iona was led by Jones who scored 40 points for the second time in his career with the Gaels. He added two rebounds and 12 free-throws in 43 minutes of action on the hardwood. Sean Armand finished with 18 points and Tre Bowman added 15.
The UConn Huskies defeated Wake Forest to advance to the semifinals behind 16 points apiece from Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright. UConn won the Paradise Jam back in 2008, a season that ended with a trip to the NCAA Final Four. The Huskies and the Bobcats will tip-off at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Eastern Time) on Sunday, November 19.
Please refer to the Official Website of Quinnipiac Athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com, for any schedule changes as well as the latest news, scores and highlights. The 2012-13 Men's Basketball Schedule is also available for download at www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com for all mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads, as well as all desktop computers.
Contact: Tony Distasio; firstname.lastname@example.org