Umar Shannon nailed a last-second three-pointer to lead the Quinnipiac University Bobcats over the Hampton Pirates by the score of 71-68 Wednesday night at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, CT.
Quinnipiac trailed for most of the contest, falling behind by as much as 12 at the 3:51 mark of the first half, but a spirited effort from junior guard Zaid Hearst helped propel the Bobcats back into the game. Quinnipiac finally retook the lead on an Ike Azotam layup with 1:49 remaining. Hampton tied the game at 68 after an offensive rebound allowed Ramon Mercado to hit a three from the corner with 30 seconds left in the game. Shannon then brought the ball up the court unpressured, held for the last shot, and knocked down the game-winning basket with just 1.6 seconds left in the game.
Shannon entered the final possession just 2-12 from the field; however both of those baskets came from beyond the arc. He finished with 11 points on the evening. After the game, head coach Tom Moore was asked about the decision to allow Shannon to take the final shot.
“At least you know you’re going to get the last shot up when you’re giving it to a ball handler,” Moore said. “If you want to give the ball to a shooter like Zaid or down low to Ike or Ousmane, you need a pass or two to be completed. We were going to run a different play, but when they came out passive I decided to run a flat ball screen for Umar and have him create. He’s got great separation, he’s made big shots, he’s the oldest guy we have and I thought it was safe in his hands.”
“On the last possession, it was just my teammates and coaching staff putting me in a position to make a play for the team,” Shannon added about the last shot. “I was pretty confident. Even though I was struggling all night, I still had confidence enough.”
Quinnipiac trailed 38-32 at halftime and gave up two quick baskets to Du’Vaughn Maxwell to trail by 10. The Hampton lead grew to 12 before Zaid Hearst made three 3-pointers in 3:23 to cut the Hampton lead to four. Hearst led all scorers with 22 points on 9-16 shooting, going 4-6 from beyond the arc and pulled down 14 rebounds for his second straight double-double.
“I thought his will to win was so infectious,” Moore said of Hearst’s performance. “This is two games in a row when we were at our lowest that Zaid sparked the whole thing by doing what Quinnipiac does – he flies to the offensive glass, he helps make stops, and he made some big shots today. When those 3’s went in for him, that was deserving because he was the hardest-playing, most prideful kid on either team out there tonight.”
Azotam finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds while fellow forward Ousmane Drame ended up with 13 points and 8 rebounds. The two Quinnipiac forwards went to the free throw line a combined 21 times as their pressure inside forced three Pirates to foul out, including both starting forwards Maxwell and Emmanuel Okoroba.
Maxwell led Hampton with 14 points and five rebounds but was in foul trouble for much of second half and watched from the bench for most of Quinnipiac’s comeback before picking up his fifth foul with 2:36 remaining in the game. Deron Powers added 13 points and 5 assists, going 5-5 from the free throw line.
Quinnipiac travels to Maine on Monday, November 25th to take on the Black Bears at Harold Alfond Arena at 7 pm.