Shannon’s 24 points leads men’s basketball past Albany
When Umar Shannon joined the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team this summer, head coach Tom Moore was thrilled. Shannon, a graduate-student guard who had played his first three years at Saint Francis University, had given the Quinnipiac coaching staff nightmares for years.
Shannon averaged 15.8 points-per-game during his breakout sophomore year, and 11.2 points-per-game during his senior season after sitting out most of his junior campaign with an injury. Because of this, Moore distinctly remembers the endless nights preparing to play against the point guard.
Today, for a change, Moore got to enjoy Shannon’s performance.
Shannon scored 24 points Saturday afternoon on 8-of-17 shooting, and the Bobcats erased an early 11-0 deficit to go on and beat Albany by the final score of 79-69 at Lender Court.
“[Shannon] has got some James Johnson in him, and that’s pretty high praise around this program,” Moore said. “He’s that combo guard that can score, get the defense back on their heels. He’s such a nice kid, and I’m glad to see him play well.”
Shannon credited his performance to his teammates, saying they have accepted him since day one.
“I’m coming here in a pretty good situation,” Shannon said. “I have a lot of good teammates who accepted me when I came through the door, so they make my job easy. It’s just a good situation.”
The first 3:15 of the game did not go as the Bobcats had planned. Albany came out hot and took an early 11-0 lead, but Quinnipiac would go on a 9-2 run over the next four minutes to claw its way back into the game.
“I’m really proud that we battled back after the way we opened the game,” Moore said. “We were just flat-footed and a step behind, they passed the ball really well early. We had a really good calmness and poise that brought us back, though.”
Kasim Chandler led a two on one fast break for the Bobcats, then dumped it off to Ike Azotam for an emphatic slam. Ousmane Drame then spun off a defender and scored on the next Quinnipiac possession, giving Quinnipiac momentum.
“When we had that huddle down 11-0 to start, my message was ‘let’s be who we are and do what we do. Let’s get to the glass and get out on the break,’” Moore said.
The rest of the half was a back-and-forth battle, one lead change after another. The first Quinnipiac’s lead came with 7:16 left in the first half, when Shannon was fouled shooting and three and suck all of his foul shots.
Shannon scored 19 of his 24 points in the half. He shot 4-of-7 from downtown in the first 20 minutes, including a buzzer-beating three at the end of the half to make it 41-35 Quinnipiac.
“After the opposing team scores, they aren’t really looking to get back because there is so little time left,” Shannon said. “I took advantage of that and was able to get a shot off.”
The Bobcats would hold on to that lead throughout the rest of the second half.
“I implored him [Shannon] to get more aggressive and shoot it early,” Moore said.
“He was soft, not attacking. I sort of begged him to shoot more. He’s a great kid, and he listened.”
Zaid Hearst aided the winning effort with 14 points and 12 rebounds of his own, while Ousmane Drame contributed with an 18 point, nine rebound performance.
“I was just attacking the glass and rebounding, doing what coach Moore has been preaching to us,” Hearst said.
Ike Azotam scored eight points on the night. He is now four shy of becoming the eighth-leading all-time scorer in Quinnipiac program history.
With the win Quinnipiac moves to 2-1 on the season. It is back in action Wednesday night, as it hosts Hampton at 7 p.m.