Written by Joey Zocco
Rebounds seem to always be the key for Quinnipiac, the nation’s second–ranked rebounding team, but a high 3-point percentage also helped on Saturday afternoon.
The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team (14-8, 9-4 MAAC) avenged its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference loss against Rider back in December by defeating the Broncos (12-11, 8-6 MAAC) at the TD Bank Sports Center, 82-61 on Saturday afternoon.
Head Coach Tom Moore said his team knows they have to be successful at one thing to be able to compete.
“I was happy with our commitment to rebounding again,” said Head Coach Tom Moore. “I thought the offensive rebounding and the wear down effect was something that helped us get the win, and also establish a lead and increase the lead.”
Senior Ike Azotam led all scorers with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Zaid Hearst continued his great play by adding 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the floor. Junior Evan Conti was one of five Bobcats in double figures, scoring 10 points and adding four rebounds.
Rider head coach Kevin Baggett said he knows his team was tired after playing six games in 16 days, and was upset with the officiating.
“I am bothered by the fact that there were nine fouls [called] in the game against a team that is very physical,” said Baggett. “I am normally not a bellyacher on this stuff but nine fouls, that’s a joke.”
With the win, Quinnipiac now moves into a tie for third place in the MAAC standings with Manhattan. The Bobcats are now just two games behind first place Iona in the conference.
Quinnipiac played a completely different game than the one fans saw the first time Quinnipiac played Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey back on Dec. 8, 2013. Rider won that game 90-78, but this time around the Bobcats were ready for what Rider had to offer.
“I think we just played harder,” said Azotam. “They rattled us with their press the first time around, so we made sure we prepared for that in practice. So as long as we could break the press, rebound, and not get down when we miss shots we knew we were going to be fine.”
The first half remained close until Quinnipiac ended the final two minutes and thirty-five seconds of the half on a 10-0 run. There were eight lead changes in the half, and the Bobcats lead 34-27 at the break.
The second half was more of the same, as Quinnipiac never let Rider get it within single digits again. The three-pointers continued to fall throughout the second half as the Bobcats shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
“Shots were falling,” said junior Zaid Hearst. “We are not really known for making a lot of threes and when we make threes we are even more deadly.”
The Bobcats shot 44 percent from the floor and 56 percent from the 3-point line. Quinnipiac outshot Rider in this game—the opposite of their first meeting, when Rider shot 45 percent from the floor to Quinnipiac’s 41 percent.
Quinnipiac’s next game is at home on Monday, Feb. 10 against the Marist University Red Foxes, who are currently tied for sixth in the MAAC.