Quinnipiac men’s basketball completes comeback, beats Mount St. Mary’s in OT

Kerry Healy

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team overcame a 15-point first half deficit to defeat Mount St. Mary’s in an overtime thriller, 69-66, Thursday at the TD Bank Sports Center. The Bobcats (11-9, 4-5 Northeast Conference) won their second consecutive overtime win and remained in a three-way tie for sixth place in the NEC.

[media-credit id=1459 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]

The game was sent into overtime after James Johnson missed a half court shot, with the score tied at 61. The five minute overtime began in favor of the Bobcats starting it off with an Ike Azotam dunk.

Azotam recorded 20 points on the game and collected nine rebounds.

Ousmane Drame scored the final basket of the game with less than 20 seconds left, to secure the Bobcat victory. Drame recorded a double-double, grabbing 15 rebounds and 13 points, 10 of which came in the second half and overtime.

“Ousmane’s been practicing good recently,” Azotam said. Drame tied his career high in points and passed his career high in rebounds.

Julian Norfleet missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer for the Mountaineers (4-16, 2-7 NEC) as time expired.

The Bobcats began the second half looking like a new team. Quinnipiac jumped out to a 22-6 run in the first 11 minutes of the half to take a 50-49 lead with 8:44 remaining.

“They made defensive stops early in the (second) half,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “They were alert, we had better help side rotation, we were beat less on drives, and that got us running a couple times.”

Before the Bobcats took off in the second half, they were struggling both offensively and defensively. They entered halftime down 43-28, only shooting 10 of 28 from the field, while the Mountaineers entered halftime confident, ending the half with a 16-2 run.

“We’re shocked and disappointed with our overall performance in the first half,” Moore said. “We weren’t sharp offensively or defensively, or rebounding the ball by our standards.”

The Bobcats, the second-leading rebounding team in the country, were outrebounded in the first half 20-17, but finished the game with a 46-40 advantage in rebounds.

Dave Johnson only played eight minutes in the first half after suffering foul trouble early on.

“I sat Dave with two fouls in the first half,” Moore said. “He’s been our best player over the last four games and the fact that we had him on the court for pretty much the rest of the game I think was huge for our offensive I.Q.”

After an Azotam layup, Quinnipiac took a 67-65 lead with 1:13 left. Raven Barber made 1 of 2 free throws to cut the deficit to one with 54 seconds left before Drame rebounded a missed 3 by Zaid Hearst and made the putback layup with 20.3 seconds to go. Norfleet’s 3 from the wing hit off the rim as time expired.

The Bobcats will take on Wagner, who is tied with Central Connecticut and Robert Morris for second place in the NEC, Saturday at the TD Bank Sports Center at 2 p.m.