Men’s basketball earn consecutive victories

Gene Demaio

In a matchup that came down to the final second, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball defeated the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights by a score of 58-56. The Knights rallied from a nine point halftime deficit, following several lead changes in the second half. It finally ended when Jamee Jackson blocked a Fairleigh Dickinson shot with one second remaining. With the win, the Bobcats have won consecutive games for the first time this season.

The Bobcats entered halftime leading 32-23, thanks to their rebounding which has been strong all season; currently ranked 10th in the nation in rebounds per game. Quinnipiac out-rebounded the Knights 24-14 in the first half, including 12 on the offensive side.

Three-point shooting was another key for the Bobcats in the first half, as Quinnipiac took 16 shots from three point range, nearly half of their 34 field goals attempted in the first half. Evan Conti scored the first six points for Quinnipiac with back-to-back three pointers, and finished with eight points. His teammates, however, picked up the slack. Shaq Shannon, hit a pair of three’s in the first half. The Bobcats lead topped out at 11 through the first 20 minutes.

Fortunately for Fairleigh Dickinson, their coaching staff was able to make the necessary adjustments at halftime. The Knights went on a 12-2 run in the first three minutes of the half to take a 35-34 lead.

“FDU did a really good job in their zone,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “They were active and yet packed in, and they were stronger around the rim I thought in the second half.”

With 17:02 to go in the second, Moore called a timeout and the Bobcats were able to regroup. From that point the lead would change five times. Yet, Quinnipiac’s offense continued to be a problem, shooting below 35 percent in the second half. Offensively they took the ball inside more, a departure from the three-point shooting that accounted for much of the offense in the first half.

“I think the afternoon would have been a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable had we played a little bit better offense in the second half,” Moore said. “In the first half the game was a little bit looser and flowed a little bit more; I thought we had more offensive confidence. In the second half we didn’t seem to have the same swagger offensively and we looked a little tight. In the second half I think we got a little tentative shooting the ball and with our shot selection both inside and on the perimeter once we missed a few.”

The Bobcats also committed seven turnovers in the second half, which led to 12 Knights points. In the final three minutes of the game the Bobcats could not score, but their defense and the tenacious effort from Jackson carried them to victory.

Jackson led the team with 34 minutes on Saturday. It was Jackson’s defensive intensity that helped the Bobcats stop the Knights run early in the second half. In the final three minutes, Jackson picked up two steals to go along with two blocks, all on critical Fairleigh Dickinson possessions where the team needed a big stop. He made the play of the game when he blocked a Sidney Sanders Jr. shot with one second left and Quinnipiac leading by two.

“That was a huge block I didn’t expect Jamee to move over there in like that setting because they might have got a tip in after,” Ike Azotam said. “But it was a big play. He makes big defensive plays all the time, so it was a smart play by him, and probably the biggest play of the game.”

This win was the first time this season the Bobcats have strung together consecutive victories. While the team has struggled this season, Azotam said Coach Moore has talked to the team about making this season “snowball”.

“Coach has been talking about making the whole season snowball so we feel like if we pick up some steam we’ll win a couple more games and we can have a big weekend next weekend too,” Azotam said. “We wanted to get our record back to 4-4 in the conference so he said if we did what we had to do we just gotta have the same intensity next weekend at Mount and at Wagner.”

The Bobcats will look to rise above .500 in NEC play Jan. 31 at Mount Saint Mary’s.