RIVERDALE, N.Y. – The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team delivered its most impressive performance of the season on Sunday afternoon, as the Bobcats topped Manhattan College, 90-86, in overtime at Draddy Gymnasium. The victory completed a series sweep of the MAAC's preseason No. 1 pick, and currently has the Bobcats in third place at the midway point of the regular season.
Resilience and poise were two words that Quinnipiac men's basketball head coach Tom Moore used in his postgame press conference – and with good reason. The game featured 11 lead changes and seven tie scores, but Moore's veteran group prevailed in a hostile environment in downtown Manhattan.
Quinnipiac, now 12-7 overall and 7-3 in league play, was led by Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.), Umar Shannon (Atlantic City, N.J.) and Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.). All three finished with 20 or more points, which was something that hadn't been done since the 2001-02 campaign. Hearst registered his seventh double-double of the year and set a new career high with 25 points. He was 7-of-12 from the floor and hauled in 10 rebounds. He also went 11-of-12 from the free-throw line; including several clutch ones down the stretch.
Shannon matched Hearst with 25 points, which was a season high for the fifth-year guard. Shannon went 7-of-11 from the field and knocked down 3-of-5 from long range. He added three assists and also corralled two steals for the first time this year. Azotam propelled the front court with 21 points and 12 rebounds en route to his 39th career double-double. He was 8-of-17 from the floor.
Draddy Gymnasium was packed to the brim, creating a loud atmosphere from the opening tip. The beginning was tough, but Quinnipiac weathered the storm and gained momentum midway through the stanza. The Bobcats led at the break, 35-29.
After intermission, Manhattan charged back and erased the six-point deficit. The teams went back-and-forth until the clock ticked inside of seven minutes, where the Bobcats opened up the largest lead of the game with a 7-0 run. Hearst capped off the surge with a pair of free-throws to put Quinnipiac up by 10, 70-60, with 5:33 left in regulation.
Manhattan answered with a 13-0 spurt of its own, and the teams again exchanged blows in the waning minutes. With the scored knotted at 75 apiece, Emmy Andujar gave the Jaspers a two-point lead with 49 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Umar Shannon was fouled and calmly knocked down two free-throws with 21 seconds left to tie the score for the seventh time. Manhattan came up empty on the final possession of regulation.
It was all Quinnipiac from that point forward. The Bobcats stuck first and kept their foot on the gas pedal on their way to an 11-3 run in the overtime. Manhattan mustered just three points in the first four minutes, and Quinnipiac went 8-for-10 from the charity stripe to sustain the lead. Umar Shannon put the game out of reach with two free-throws with 31 seconds left.
In addition to the starters, Quinnipiac's bench played a key role in the triumph. Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) was sensational with all 11 of his points coming in the second half or overtime. He added seven rebounds and two assists to his line. AJ Sumbry (East Windsor, N.J.) and Marquis Barnett (Bronx, N.Y.) provided strong minutes to aid the absence of Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.). Sumbry had four points and three rebounds and Barnett chipped in with a jumper and a rebound. Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) finished with two points, six rebounds and four assists.
Quinnipiac hauled in 50 rebounds for the sixth time this season, winning the rebounding edge, 51-38. The Bobcats ripped down 17 on the offensive end and accumulated 22 points on second chance opportunities.
Manhattan, who lost on its home court for just the second time this year, was led by 15 points from Rhamel Brown and Michael Alvarado. George Beamon, the MAAC's second leading scorer, was held to 12 points. With the loss, the Jaspers fell to 14-5 overall and 7-3 in MAAC play. QU leads the all-time series, 2-0.
For the second consecutive game, Moore and his staff participated in Coaches vs. Cancer Suits And Sneakers™ Awareness Weekend. Coaches across the country united to fight cancer and raise funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society during this weekend's NCAA basketball games.
Quinnipiac returns to action on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 with a crucial home game against Canisius. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at the TD Bank Sports Center. The game will be televised on SNY.
Fans interested in purchasing tickets for the 2013-14 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.
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