Saturday, March 8, 2014

Quinnipiac Outmuscles Niagara, Heads To Semifinals

The Niagara men's basketball team made some second-half runs, the last one getting it ti within five points late in the game, but it struggled to contain Quinnipiac's offense throughout as the Bobcats emerged from its MAAC men's tournament quarterfinal-round contest with an 89-80 victory in Saturday's late contest.

The winners scored on five of their last seven possessions, breaking away from its late five-point lead on rugged senior forward Ike Azotam's old-fashioned three-point play and, then, getting their last seven points from the foul line to close out the outcome.

The victory sends 20-10 Quinnipiac on to Sunday's semifinal round of play where it will meet second-seeded Manhattan at 7 p.m.

Niagara, now 7-26 overall, got a game-high 28 points from its standout junior forward Antoine Mason, who entered the contest as the second-leading scorer nationally. But, he only went 9-of-22 from the field and often struggled to get good looks against the physical, aggressive Bobcats' defense.

Quinnipiac got balanced scoring, with double-figure totals coming from guard Shaq Shannon (20), Azotam (18), guard Zaid Hearst (15), forward Ousmane Drame (15) and guard Evan Conti (12, along with six assists).

Drame also contributed 16 rebounds in the winning effort, and the Bobcats controlled the backboards, outrebounding Niagara 42-29 in the contest.

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