ST. THOMAS, US Virgin Islands – The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team went toe-to-toe with No. 23 nationally-ranked University of Connecticut on Sunday night, but came up short in a double overtime thriller, 89-83, in the semifinals of the 2012 Paradise Jam in Saint Thomas. The Bobcats will challenge George Mason in the consolation game of the winners' bracket tomorrow, while UConn advances to the championship game where it will take on New Mexico in the nightcap.
For the second straight game, Quinnipiac registered five players in double-figures; this time led by Dave Johnson's (Jackson, N.J.) 16 points - none bigger than a game-tying trey at the end of the first overtime. Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) added 15 points and grabbed four rebounds, Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) chipped in with 13, Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.) had 11 and Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) finished with 10. Azotam hauled in a game-high nine rebounds, closely followed by Jackson's seven.
After combining for a woeful 29 percent shooting in the first half, the Bobcats and Huskies fared better in the second half of play. The two teams went back-and-forth until the scoreboard read 45-45 with 7:30 seconds showing on the clock. At that point, Quinnipiac rattled off a 10-0 run over the next 2:33 seconds – capped off by a three-point field goal from Garvey Young which forced first-year head coach Kevin Ollie into a timeout.
With two of the most dynamic guards in the country on the other side, sustaining the advantage was going to be a difficult task for the Bobcats. Led by Shabazz Napier, UConn chipped away at its deficit over the waning minutes and eventually climbed to within two points with 48 seconds left in regulation. After another UConn timeout, the Huskies clamped down on defense and forced Quinnipiac into an empty possession – allowing for one more chance on the offensive end. Napier went the length of the court in seven seconds and connected on a game-tying lay-up with four seconds showing on the clock. The Bobcats failed to get a shot off in their final possession, leaving overtime to determine a winner.
UConn garnered a quick lead in the extra frame and worked its way to a four-point lead, 75-71, with 19 seconds remaining. This time it was Quinnipiac's time to chase, as Garvey Young nailed an impossible, fade-away three-point field goal with 13 seconds left. Forced to foul, UConn's Shabazz Napier extended the lead back to three after a pair of free-throws – setting the stage for senior Dave Johnson. The 5-10 guard carried the ball to the right wing, used a quick cross-over dribble to free himself up and drilled the three-point shot needed to tie the score up at 77 apiece. Napier's last stitch effort came up short, sending the two teams into a second overtime.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, UConn jumped out to a quick lead behind three field goals – a three from Napier and jumpers from Omar Calhoun and Ryan Boatright. Quinnipiac managed just one field goal in the five minute frame, allowing the Huskies to escape with a six-point victory.
"It's hard," said Moore. "My kids are a little devastated, because they feel they were close to beating a team that they have a lot of respect for. In tournaments like this, you don't get extra points for playing really well against a good team."
Quinnipiac outplayed UConn for most of the game but gave way to a significant advantage from the charity stripe. UConn connected on 39-of-45 (86.7 percent), granting the Huskies a 15-point edge over the Bobcats (24-35). UConn also turned 17 Bobcat turnovers into 18 points on the other end.
Although the two teams each finished with 32 points in the paint; Quinnipiac clearly had the stronger front court. The Bobcats controlled a plus-nine edge on the glass, 44-35, including 14 offensive rebounds which resulted in 20 second chance points.
Napier posted a game-high 29 points, 11 of which came from the free-throw line, to go along with 18 points from Boatright. Boatright went 12-of-13 from the free-throw line after a difficult night from the floor (3-14).
The 2012 Paradise Jam concludes tomorrow with a full slate of games - Wake Forest and Mercer at 3:30 p.m., Iona and UIC at 6 p.m., Quinnipiac and George Mason at 8:30 p.m. and UConn and New Mexico in the nightcap at 11 p.m. CBS Sports will broadcast the final two games of the tournament.
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; email@example.com