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HAMDEN, Conn. – The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team clicked on all cylinders on Thursday night, as the Bobcats cruised past NEC foe Monmouth University, 79-63, at the TD Bank Sports Center. Led by 18 points apiece from Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) and Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.), Quinnipiac improved to 10-13 overall and climbed back over the .500 mark in league competition (6-5).
"I was pleased with the completeness of the game," said head coach Tom Moore, who picked up the 103rd win of his career. "We've outplayed teams on both ends of the court of late; I think we are getting better, individually our guards are improving, and as a team, therefore, we are getting better on both sides of the ball."
Azotam finished with 18 points with 15 of those coming in the first half, and now remains 17 points shy of 1,000 for his career. Shannon matched a career-high with his 18 points, as the duo combined to go 16-of-20 from the floor. Shannon added a team-best six assists and four rebounds to complete a stellar all-around night. Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.), filling a starting role for the 23rd time in his career, put together another solid performance with 12 points, nine rebounds and five blocks – missing his career-high and Division I program record by just one. Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) concluded players in double-digits with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.
For the second straight game, Quinnipiac took control from the opening whistle – outscoring Monmouth 15-2 through the first 3:45 of play. The Bobcats went 6-for-6 from the floor to start the game, while holding the Hawks to just 1-of-7 on the other end. Monmouth chipped away over the next 10 minutes, but Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) gave the Bobcats a double-digit advantage once and for all with a jumper at the 6:30 mark. Quinnipiac carried a 41-30 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After the break, Quinnipiac's lead ballooned to 27 after a 21-6 run over the next nine minutes. Shannon and Conti combined for 12 points during the stint, leaving the Hawks with an insurmountable mountain to climb. The Bobcats held onto their comfortable lead and coasted to their fourth straight win at home.
Now winners in four of its last five games, Quinnipiac controlled nearly every statistical category in the match-up. Offensively, the Bobcats connected on a season-high 58.6 percent of their shot attempts compared to just 41.1 percent from the Hawks. Quinnipiac controlled the paint, 42-32, the rebound margin, 32-29, and points off turnovers, 13-6.
The Bobcats committed just seven turnovers in the game, 12 fewer than Monmouth's season-average entering the game. Quinnipiac also recorded nine blocks in the game, a feat which only four other NEC teams have accomplished since QU joined the NCAA's highest division.
Quinnipiac has won nine of the last 11 meetings with the Hawks and is now riding a six-game winning streak. Furthermore, the Bobcats are 7-0 at the TD Bank Sports Center.
The Bobcats return to action on Sunday afternoon against instate rival, Central Connecticut State University. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. at Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain, Conn.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets for the 2012-13 campaign can call the QU Ticket Office at 203-582-3905, visit the official website of Quinnipiac athletics, www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com or make a trip to the TD Bank Sports Center Ticket Office.
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.