ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Quinnipiac defeats Bryant

By Bill Cloutier

Assistant Sports Editor

HAMDEN — It was too early to call Saturday’s game against Bryant a must-win for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team. It wasn’t too early for the Bobcats to play that way.

Quinnipiac raced out to a 27-point lead in the first half and cruised to an 83-72 victory in a Northeast Conference game at the TD Bank Sports Center Saturday afternoon. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Bobcats who rebounded from a lifeless effort against Sacred Heart just two days ago.

"In light of how poorly we played offense on Thursday, for emotionally and confidence-wise it was really good for us," Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said. "We put up 44 points really quickly. It was 44-19 us with five minutes to go in the first half.

"We had great body language and you could just see our spirits lift."

Saturday also saw the emergence of enigmatic forward Jamee Jackson for Quinnipiac (3-4, 1-1 NEC). Jackson scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds and appears ready to join James Johnson and Ike Azotam as a legitimate option on offense. The Bobcats have struggled to find consistency in that area.

"I’m thrilled with the performance of Jamee Jackson," Moore said. "Jamee’s really blossoming now as a junior. He’s had the best 10 practices in a row since he’s been at Quinnipiac. That’s what’s fun about college basketball ... You expect growth and development and that’s what we’re starting to see with him and it’s really exciting."

Said Jackson: "It was a tough loss on Thursday. We expected to win the game but knew we couldn’t dwell on the loss. We were excited to get back into practice and it carried over into the game.

"Against Fairfield and American I had good games. Then I got into foul trouble but I kept being aggressive and kept playing hard on defense and I knew it would come if I kept playing hard."

Bryant was led by Alex Francis and Corey Maynard, who both scored 18 points. Francis scored 20 points against Notre Dame earlier in the season and helped the Bulldogs stun Quinnipiac last year when they erased a 25-point lead to beat the Bobcats at Hamden. But Jackson also did a solid job slowing down the Bulldogs’ exciting swingman and Bryant performed no such miracles this time.

Overall, Quinnipiac played its best offensive game of the season. It shot 55 percent from the field in the first half including a 5-for-9 performance from 3-point range.

The Bulldogs make things a bit interesting when they ended the first half on a 16-3 run hitting four straight 3-pointers in the surge. Quinnipiac held a 47-33 lead at the break and outrebounded the Bulldogs 24-9 in the first half.

Bryant refused to quit and cut the deficit to 54-43 midway through the second half when the Bobcats imposed their will. Following a missed jumper by Dave Johnson, Azotam raced from the baseline to the top of the key to steal a rebound and fired a pass to James Johnson on the wing who buried a 3-pointer.

Bryant never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way and that came in the final minute.

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