HAMDEN, Conn. – Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) collected his 40th career double-double on Saturday afternoon, and the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team rolled past Rider University, 82-61, at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden. With the win, the Bobcats move into sole possession of third place in the league standings, just one game behind Canisius and two games behind Iona.
With seeding implications on the line, Quinnipiac and Rider stood just one game apart entering the contest. Quinnipiac improved to 14-8 overall and 9-4 in conference play, with the visiting Broncs falling to 12-11 overall and 8-6 overall. The Bobcats have won two straight.
Azotam stole the show in front of 2,868 people as the senior forward continued to make his case for MAAC Player of the Year. He finished with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. With the effort, he remains one double-double shy of Justin Rutty's all-time career mark of 41.
Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.), Umar Shannon (Atlantic City, N.J.), Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) all joined Azotam in double-figures. Hearst finished with 13 points going 3-of-4 from long range; Umar Shannon had 12 points, two rebounds and two assists; Shaq Shannon had 12 points on 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc; and Conti had 10 points and four rebounds. He was 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. Quinnipiac improved to 6-0 this year when five players score in double-figures.
The nation's top rebounding team got off to a slow start on the glass, but returned to form minutes before the halftime whistle. Rider controlled the backboards and the lead early on, but Quinnipiac powered its way back into the game with a 10-4 run midway through the opening stanza. After exchanging baskets over the next few minutes, Quinnipiac closed the half on a meaningful 8-0 run and took a 34-27 lead into the locker room at the break. Hearst capped off the surge with a three-pointer at the buzzer to conclude scoring in the first half.
Rider cut the deficit to four points, 36-32, early on in the second half, but Quinnipiac gained separation through a 13-2 run. The Bobcats pushed the lead to 20 points and cruised to a comfortable win at the Bank. Quinnipiac improved to 14-2 in its last 16 games in Hamden. This includes 11 of its last 12 against conference opposition.
Quinnipiac hauled in 44 rebounds for the game, which featured 23 on the offensive end. That led to 29 second chance points. The Bobcats are 10-1 this year when accumulating 20 second chance points. Quinnipiac out-rebounded Rider, 44-30, for the game.
Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) had nine points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats.
Rider was led by Daniel Stewart who finished with 15 points and four rebounds. Anthony Miles, the team's leading scorer, was held to just seven points. Rider has lost two straight games and has Manhattan up next.
Quinnipiac will play its next three games in Connecticut, two of which that will take place at the TD Bank Sports Center. The Bobcats return to action on Monday, Feb. 10 when they host Marist at 7 p.m., followed by a trip to Fairfield University on Thursday, Feb. 13.
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.
Student-Athletes, parents and fans can download the 2013-14 QU Athletics schedules to your laptop and mobile devices for free by clicking in the iCalendar link at the bottom of each sport's homepage or the master schedule page. Fans can also follow Quinnipiac Athletics on Facebook and Twitter (@QUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates.