BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Relying on its depth hadn't really factored in until recent weeks, and never more so than on Thursday night for the Quinnipiac men's basketball team. Playing without six Bobcat players due to injury, Quinnipiac was unfazed in an 80-72 victory over Fairfield University at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
Quinnipiac first had to brave the elements of a winter storm, and then had to face a fierce competitor in Fairfield with a short bench. Five Bobcats logged 30-plus minutes in the game.
Nonetheless, the league's top front court and relentlessness on the backboards paved the path for Quinnipiac. Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) finished with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds, and Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) added 17 points and eight rebounds. Quinnipiac won its fourth straight game and improved to 16-8 overall and 11-4 in league play.
The Bobcats' backcourt was led by Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.), Shaq Shannon (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.) who each finished in double-figures. Hearst had 20 points and five rebounds; Shannon had 10 points and eight rebounds and Conti had 10 points and five rebounds. Quinnipiac improved to 7-0 this year when five players score in double-digits.
Quinnipiac came out hot, and Fairfield struggled from the floor in the early going. The Bobcats held Fairfield without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the game, and led 16-1 before the Stags' first basket. Quinnipiac shot 52 percent from the floor in the first half en route to a 39-28 lead at the break.
Fairfield made a run midway through the second half, which was spearheaded by Maurice Barrow. He tallied 16 of his 18 points in the latter frame and sparked a 12-3 run to cut the Stags' deficit to just four with 6:58 remaining.
Hope dwindled quickly for Fairfield though, as Quinnipiac rattled off seven straight to regain its double-digit lead. Azotam hit a layup, Hearst drilled a three and Drame capped off the run with a running left-hander to make it an 11-point game. The Bobcats coasted to victory after that.
The Bobcats scored at least 80 points for the fourth straight game, and improved to 13-0 this year when doing so. Quinnipiac also continued to make its way to the free-throw line, draining 31 on the night. Hearst went 13-of-15 from the charity stripe.
Quinnipiac improved to 2-1 in the all-time series with Fairfield. It was Quinnipiac's 124th win since 2007-08, and they now trail Fairfield by just one during that span.
Fairfield, now 5-21 overall and 2-13 in the MAAC, saw two others besides Barrow in double-figures. KJ Rose had 18 point and Marcus Gilbert finished with 10.
Quinnipiac returns to action on Sunday, Feb. 16 for a special day at the TD Bank Sports Center. The Bobcats will celebrate Senior Day prior to their 4 p.m. tip-off against Saint Peter's University. The Peacocks defeated Quinnipiac in their first meeting back in January.
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.