Opportunity knocked for the Quinnipiac basketball team, and the Bobcats capitalized.
Ike Azotam grabbed an offensive rebound after the shot-clock buzzer went off and made a layup with 14 seconds left to lift the Bobcats to a 59-57 victory over the University at Albany in a non-conference game Friday night at SEFCU Arena.
When Evan Conti’s jumper barely hit the rim, the shot-clock buzzer went off by mistake, and University at Albany players thought there was a violation. That left the door open for Azotam’s eventual game-winner, as the startled Danes stood around thinking they were going to take possession.
UAlbany still one chance to win the game, but senior guard Mike Black misfired on an open three-pointer with three seconds remaining.
Quinnipiac (4-6) snapped UAlbany’s six-game winning streak. The Great Danes head into the Christmas break with a 9-3 record.
“We stopped when the horn went off, but the officials said that the ball hit the rim and that the horn should not have sounded,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “It was very similar to what happened to us last year against Stony Brook [in the America East Conference tournament semifinals]. You are supposed to play to the whistle, but it’s a natural instinct and reaction when you hear the buzzer to stop playing.”
It was fitting that Quinnipiac won with the help of an offensive rebound, because the Bobcats outrebounded UAlbany, 39-30, including a 15-7 edge on the offensive glass.
“I don’t know if the ball hit the rim. I couldn’t tell,” said Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore. “I was just watching Ike’s effort. He refused to be boxed out, and it was a great second-effort play. We had 15 offensive rebounds tonight. We’ve outrebounded all 10 teams that we’ve played this year, and we’re usually in the top 15 in the country in offensive rebounds.”
Although Quinnipiac was playing without two injured starters — point guard Dave Johnson and small forward Garvey Young — the Bobcats did an excellent job both on the boards and on defense. They held UAlbany’s top two scorers, Black and Jacob Iati, to a combined 19 points on 5-for-17 shooting from the floor.
Brown pointed out, however, that both Iati and Black missed practice time this week. Iati has an Achilles’ heel issue, while Black was suffering from a contagious form of laryngitis and missed three days of practice.
“You’ve got to give credit to Quinnipiac,” said Black, who finished with 14 points but also made six turnovers. “They played to their strengths, which is offensive rebounding. We held our own, but we made too many turnovers, especially at the end.”
Sophomore forward Sam Rowley helped pick up the slack for both Black and Iati with 15 points and seven rebounds.
“Fortunately, it’s only one game, and one game doesn’t make a season,” he said about the loss. “Our run wasn’t going to last forever. Still, this is a game that we would have loved to have won. They played very tough and physical against us. That was their strength. They worked hard. They didn’t make talent plays, they made effort plays.”
“They were the sharper team tonight,” Brown said. “Mike had that contagious laryngitis, and Jacob had that Achilles’ issue. We weren’t 100 percent. I think that affected our rhythm.”
Even though Quinnipiac held the lead for most of the game, the Danes pulled out to a 52-46 edge with a 5-0 run late in the game.
Iati sank his lone three-pointer with 4:20 remaining to give the Danes a 55-59 edge, and Black made a pair of free throws for a 57-52 UAlbany lead with 3:44 to go.
But the Great Danes made some mistakes down the stretch.
Zaid Hearst nailed a three-pointer to cut the Bobcats’ deficit to 57-55, and Jamee Jackson’s driving layup knotted the score at 57-57 with 1:43 left.
UAlbany turned the ball over twice in the final 1:30 before Quinnipiac called a timeout to set up a play with 49.4 seconds left.
That’s when the Great Danes thought they had made an excellent defensive stand against Conti.
“We forced the issue three times at the end,” said Brown. “I was worried about what the nine days off would do to our rhythm, and I was worried what would happen with Black and Iati missing so much time. We made 16 turnovers tonight, and several of them happened at the end. Quinnipiac pounded the glass, and they did a good job on Jacob Iati.”
Black was nominated by the
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year candidate. The watch list of candidates will be narrowed down to the final 20 around Jan. 1, and to the final 10 on Feb. 1. The final five will be named March 1.
Azotam 6-10 5-6 17, Jackson 4-9 0-1 8, Hearst 5-12 0-0 12, Shannon 3-11 2-2 8, Conti 2-9 0-0 5, Ray 1-6 0-0 2, Drame 1-1 2-2 4, Ford 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 23-59 9-11 59.
Metcalf 0-0 2-4 2, Guerrier 1-6 0-0 3, Puk 3-6 3-4 9, Iati 1-3 2-4 5, Black 4-14 4-4 14, Evans 0-1 0-0 0, Devlin 0-1 0-0 0, Hooley 3-6 2-2 9, Rowley 6-8 3-5 15, Wiegmann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-45 16-23 57.
Halftime: Quinnipiac, 26-24. Three-point goals: Quinnipiac 4-17 (Hearst 2-5, Shannon 0-, Conti 1-4, Ray 0-2, Ford 1-1); UAlbany 5-13 (Guerrier 1-4, Iati 1-2, Black 2-5, Devlin 0-1, Hooley 1-1). Rebounds: Quinnipiac 39 (Azotam 8), UAlbany 30 (Rowley 7). Assists: Quinnipiac 10 (Shannon 4), UAlbany 6 (Hooley 2). Personal fouls: Quinnipiac 21, UAlbany 16. Officials: Jeffrey Anderson, Darren Moran, Gary Duda. Attendance: 2,146.