Quinnipiac knocks off B.U.
Assistant Sports Editor
Averaging 25 points and 14 rebounds over the past three games Quinnipiac’s Ike Azotam has suddenly become a marked man. Azotam was double-teamed and harassed by a physical Boston University team all game long and managed a season-low four points and six rebounds.
But, even without getting production from their burgeoning star, the Bobcats still overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to defeat the Terriers 59-53 in a non-conference game at the TD Bank Sports Center Saturday afternoon. With the win, Quinnipiac has won six of its last seven games as it concludes the non-conference portion of its schedule
“I was really proud of our guys’ resolve in the second half and our ability to shake off a bad offensive night from basically every player and commit totally to defending and going to the offensive boards,” Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said.
“That was as physical a team, boxing out and pushing us out of where we wanted to be, as any team we played all year. (B.U. coach Joe Jones) really got them to understand that Quinnipiac is a good rebounding team because we had 16 offensive rebounds and we’ve never had to work harder to get them than we did today.”
Freshman Ousmane Drame, starting because of a foot injury to Jamee Jackson, continues to progress at break-neck pace. Drame picked up the slack for Azotam to finished with 10 points, a game-high 14 rebounds and six blocks including two on one possession late in the game as the Terriers tried to erase its own six-point deficit.
Terrier guard Darryl Partin, who led all scorers with 19 points, went to the free throw line with 41 seconds to play with his team trailing 54-50. Partin missed a shot trying to complete a three-point play but got his own rebound but twice Drame blocked his shots to put the Bobcats in control.
“I really got on (Azotam) at halftime,” Moore said. “I challenged him quite a bit because I think he was caught by surprise by two factors, how big a target he’s going to have on him. You could tell how much of a focus B.U. put on stopping him and their commitment to boxing him out.
“Fortunately Ousmane picked up the slack. The 14 rebounds and six blocks in a game like this is really impressive.”
James Johnson led Quinnipiac with 16 points and freshman Zaid Hearst added 13 including a pair of critical 3-pointers as the Bobcats quickly cut into the Terriers’ 32-19 lead to start the second half. Quinnipiac went on an 11-2 run to start the second stanza and the game was up for grabs the rest of the way.
But Quinnipiac (8-5) never relaxed its defensive effort limiting B.U. to just eight points for the first 12 minutes after the break and the Bobcats took their first lead of the game, 43-42, with 5:59 to play on a pair of free throws by James Johnson. They never trailed again.
”Even when we went up by six I never felt we were in the control,” Moore said. “But I don’t think there’s been many halves that B.U. has shot 26 percent from the floor. Our will … was really good for our team’s confidence. The best thing is to get a win against a really good team while having to show a lot of resiliency.”
In the first half Quinnipiac got a taste of what would happen if the Bobcats couldn’t make a living on the offensive boards. Boston University, which has lost six straight games and was playing without starting point guard D.J. Irving due to a concussion controlled the boards, the tempo and the play on the way to a 32-19 halftime lead.
The Bobcats entered the game second in the nation in rebounding and first on the offensive boards averaging 17.6 a game but they had just five offensive rebounds in the first half and it only led to two points when guard Dave Johnson putback a miss by James Johnson.
But that hardly meant a momentum change was imminent as on the next trip down the court Dave Johnson fouled B.U. guard Matt Griffin (11 points) on a drive to the hoop. Johnson then pushed Griffin down and was called for personal and technical fouls giving him four fouls with four minutes left to play in the first half.
Quinnipiac has out-rebounded every team this season except for Lehigh and they lost to the Mountain Hawks 86-75 and after losing the battle on the backboards by one in the first half they finished with a 43-38 rebounding edge and Drame was the difference figuring in just about every Bobcat possession in the final minutes.
Said Drame: “Coach looked at us, especially the bigs (at halftime) and told us we had to pick it up. They were able to find me and I was able to go to the glass. This is very important for me especially for me as a freshman.
“The fact that Jamee Jackson isn’t there it’s hard. It’s hard at practice and it’s hard in the games but now I’m ready to show what I can do to get more playing time.”
Follow Bill on Twitter @BillCloutier. To receive breaking news first, simply text the word nhsports to 22700. *Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.