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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quinnipiac tops Mount St. Mary's in overtime

HAMDEN – Nothing is coming easy for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team this year. But, after two straight overtime victories maybe the Bobcats have things headed in the right direction.
Quinnipiac spotted Mount St. Mary’s a 15-point halftime lead but roared back early in the second half and pulled out a 69-66 overtime win in a Northeast Conference game at the TD Bank Sports Center Thursday. The Bobcats got 20 points from Ike Azotam and 26 second-chance points on the way to the victory.

Ousmane Drame scored 13 points and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds and James Johnson added 15 points for the Bobcats (11-9, 4-5 NEC).
“The last three years we’ve closed the season 6-3, 9-1 and 10-1,” Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said. “This is the time of the year we need more energy from them.”
They also need another big finish. The Bobcats entered play on Thursday in eighth place in the NEC and only the top eight teams qualify for the postseason tournament.
“We can’t afford to lose any because we’re battling for our spot in the (NEC) tournament,” Azotam said. “Each game is equally important.”
The Mountaineers (4-16, 2-7) got a game-high 22 points from Julian Norfleet but the flashy sophomore guard missed a 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer which would have tied the game again.
Second-half defense has been Moore’s biggest concern in NEC play. On Thursday the Bobcats didn’t play any defense in the first half and Mount St. Mary’s took a stunning 43-28 lead at the half shooting 52 percent from the field.
“I was shocked and disappointed with our play in the first half,” Moore said. “But this is the second game in the row that we played much better defense in the second half and it led us to two wins.”
Quinnipiac opened the second half on a 16-2 run to get back in the game as the Mount managed just a dunk by Raven Barber in the first eight minutes after the break.
“I only had 11 minutes at half to give them a spanking, a pep talk and everything,” Moore said. “I had to talk quick and be a parent but I had to get them to understand that we weren’t going to get 15 points in the first minute. I told them to see where we were at the 10-minute mark.”
Said Azotam: “I like the way we came out in the second half. We knew we could come back because we did it against Boston University.”
The Mount tied the game at 61 at the end of regulation when Kelvin Parker rolled in two of his 16 points from close range in the final seconds.
Quinnipiac never trailed in the extra session. Azotam gave the Bobcats a 67-65 lead with 1:10 to play. After Barber hit one of two free throws to close the gap to 67-66, Drame had the biggest basket of the game with a putback of a deflected airball by Zaid Hearst with 20 seconds left.
“We send multiple guys to the glass and that’s just Ousmane having a great feel for the game,” Moore said.
Quinnipiac played without forward Jamee Jackson who missed the game with a strained Achilles tendon. Moore said he was questionable for Saturday’s game against second-place Wagner.
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