ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Long Island edges Quinnipiac

By Bill Cloutier
Assistant Sports Editor
HAMDEN — The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team insists it’s not about to panic. But it’s getting late real early for the Bobcats.
Now 1-3 in the conference, the Bobcats (8-7) are about to hit the road for four straight games with its conference hopes squarely on the line.
Quinnipiac dropped its second straight game on Saturday, falling to conference heavyweight Long Island 79-75 in a spirited affair at the TD Bank Sports Center Saturday afternoon. The Bobcats are already three games behind the Blackbirds (10-6, 4-0) in the NEC standings and face an arduous uphill climb.

“There’s no panic,” Quinnipiac’s James Johnson said. “We can’t look too far down the road. This conference comes down to March so we have to keep getting better and take it one game at a time. We still have a lot of confidence. We know we’re good.”

Quinnipiac set its all-time Division I mark for rebounds in a game with 61, but the Bobcats shot just 39 percent and went 2-for-10 from 3-point range, never establishing an offensive rhythm. Ike Azotam led the Bobcats with 17 points and a team-high 11 rebounds and James Johnson added 15 points.
“I’m disappointed with our offense,” Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said. “We settled for a lot of bad shots, especially in the first half. Today we did one thing well, offensive rebounds (27). But we didn’t create good shots and made a lot of bad decisions with our shot selection. And we missed a lot of foul shots again.”
There was nothing wrong with the Blackbirds’ offense. LIU’s All-NEC duo of Jamal Olasawere and Julian Boyd combined for 42 points and 20 rebounds and lived up to all the preseason hype they’ve received.
“Olasawere was an animal,” LIU coach Jim Ferry said. “And our point guard, Jason Brickman (10 assists), controlled the game.”
Ferry said Quinnipiac still has the talent to make a run, but noted the Bobcats missed junior forward Jamee Jackson, who is out with torn ligaments in his foot. In his stead, Ousmane Drame, a freshman who has played very well at times, had just two points and was little match for LIU’s inside powers.
Said Moore: “Ousmane wasn’t up to the task defensively. Rebounding he was, but Olasawere’s got 80 games of college under his belt and Ousmane has just 13. He wasn’t ready for the speed and aggressiveness with which Olasawere comes at you.
“They’re a terrific team. They can score the ball and they have the best point guard in the league.”
Said Johnson: “Jamee Jackson would have helped, of course, but you can see we were just a couple of baskets away from beating a real good team.”
After Quinnipiac lost 73-72 to St. Francis (N.Y.) on Thursday, Ferry knew the Bobcats would come out with a roar on Saturday. Despite the fact that his team was out-rebounded 61-38, Ferry was happy with his team’s poise.
“All we talked about for two days was the level of intensity of which this game was going to be played at,” Ferry said. “It was going to be playoff intensity because they never get out-rebounded and they got out-rebounded last game.
“They really bullied us. To end the game with 61 rebounds, I’ve never seen that. But we stayed poised and stayed focused. We have a grind-it-out mentality and in the second half we got it going.”
Quinnipiac got an atypical 20 points off its bench, including nine points and eight rebounds from Justin Harris in the first half. The Bobcats pulled down a stunning 42 first-half rebounds. Still, the Bobcats were only tied with the high-flying Blackbirds, who went 27-6 last season to win the NEC title and lost to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament.
Olasawere, a mixture of power and finesse, took over in the early stages of the second half. He scored a game-high 25 points in 25 minutes and never let his early foul trouble hinder his play. He scored nine points in LIU’s 13-8 run to start the second half and give the Blackbirds a 50-45 lead.
LIU never trailed again and eventually built a 13-point lead. Quinnipiac battled back but couldn’t unleash its outside game and never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
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