The Red Foxes had their best three-point shooting performance of the year, but it was not enough to power them past the Bobcats as Marist fell to Quinnipiac 83-78 Monday night at the TD Bank Sports Center.
Marist knocked down 12 of their 22 attempts from behind the arc, but Quinnipiac’s Umar Shannon matched their intensity from the perimeter as he scored the most points of his Bobcat career. He made five of his 10 three-pointers en route to a season-high 26 points.
Marist opened with all the momentum, knocking down five shots from behind the arc in the first eight minutes as they quickly opened up a 25-10 advantage early in the first half. However, Quinnipiac would respond with an 18-2 run of their own to grab their first lead at 28-27 with just under six minutes remaining in the half. The teams would trade baskets from then on and entered halftime tied at 40.
“We just had to fight to get us out of that hole,” Shannon said. “We evened it up at halftime, and when we came out in the second half we wanted to play stronger than we did in the first.”
The series of runs continued in the second half, as Quinnipiac took a quick six point lead. However, Ike Azotam was forced to sit just two minutes into the half after picking up his third foul. With Azotam on the sidelines, Marist commenced a 12 point run of their own to regain the lead.
The Red Foxes held a 58-50 lead when Azotam re-entered the game at the 11:01 mark, but a 16-3 run by the Bobcats over the next five minutes punctuated by a Shannon three-pointer helped give Quinnipiac a lead they would not relinquish. At one point down the stretch, Shannon was responsible for 12 straight Bobcat points.
“Umar, individually, bailed us out on offense down the stretch,” said head coach Tom Moore. “Half of his points he got on his own, because it wasn’t like we ran great offense or someone created for him. It was at the end of the shot clock on his own.”
Ousmane Drame had another stellar performance as he continues to regain his form since returning from a knee injury. The junior forward posted 16 points, 13 rebounds, and seven blocks. The seven blocked shots tied a program record, which Drame set earlier this year against Monmouth. Joining Drame in double figures were Azotam and Zaid Hearst, who each scored 15 points. Hearst fell one rebound short of his eighth double-double of the season.
Chavaughn Lewis and Khallid Hart each led Marist with 21 points, but they got there by very different paths. Lewis chucked up 26 shots, far and away the most attempts taken by a Marist player this year, converting on just seven of those with two coming from behind the arc. Hart, the frontrunner for MAAC Freshman of the Year honors, had a far more efficient game. He converted on eight of his 11 attempts, while going 4-5 from behind the arc. However, Lewis did double Hart’s production on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds to complete his first double-double of the year.
The Red Foxes also received notable contributions from Jay Bowie and T.J. Curry. Bowie knocked down two shots from behind the arc en route to 12 points. Curry took full advantage of opportunities to shoot the ball in the first half as he posted a 3-4 mark from three-point land on his way to 11 points. Curry also helped feed his teammates, dishing out a team-high five assists.
Quinnipiac returns to action this Thursday, February 13 as they finish off their series with in-state rival Fairfield at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. with a live broadcast available on ESPN3.
Vincent Simone will be chronicling Quinnipiac’s move to the MAAC and helping cover the conference this season for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.