The perfect February continues for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team as the Bobcats squeaked out an 81-74 victory over in-state rival Sacred Heart University at the William H. Pitt Center in Fairfield on Thursday night.
Behind solid performances from Ousmane Drame and Ike Azotam, the Bobcats were able to extend their win streak to a season-best five games. The win moves Quinnipiac to .500 on the season at 13-13 and 9-5 in Northeast Conference play, good for fourth place.
Sacred Heart (9-16, 7-7 NEC) came out strong in the opening half, hitting on 18 of 28 attempts from the field, including six threes. The up-tempo style seemed to benefit the Pioneers, who ran the fast break much the chagrin of coach Tom Moore and Quinnipiac’s sluggish transition defense. Despite that, the Bobcats went into halftime trailing just 42-38.
In the second, Quinnipiac gradually chipped away at the Pioneers lead, steadily working their way back into the contest after taking the rhythm down a notch. The Bobcats went in front for good on an Azotam and-one with 4:36 to play. Quinnipiac’s leading scorer finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Pioneers were led by Shane Gibson, who poured in 36 points. Gibson, the NEC’s second leading scorer, seemed unstoppable early on, but the Bobcats were able to key in on the senior guard and prevent him from being a difference maker as the game drew to a close.
Quinnipiac was able to capitalize off of key offensive rebounds, outscoring the Pioneers 23-10 on second chance points. And while Sacred Heart outshot the Bobcats from the field, Quinnipiac dominated from the charity stripe, connecting on 25 of 28 while holding the Pioneers to just five makes on eight attempts.
Drame added 13 points and eight boards off the bench to help Quinnipiac split the season series with Sacred Heart. The Bobcats look to continue their hot streak on Saturday when they face off against Bryant University at the TD Bank Sportscenter. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.