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Azotam, Drame key to men’s basketball’s title hopes
If you haven’t been paying attention to the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team lately, it may be time to start.
The Bobcats 90-86 overtime victory against Manhattan on Sunday afternoon marks the latest example of notable success, effectively sweeping the season series with the team picked to finish first in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason poll.
Quinnipiac outscored the Jaspers 13-9 in the overtime period, becoming the first team to defeat Manhattan in overtime this season. The Bobcats are now 6-2 in January and 7-3 in conference play, good for a tie with Manhattan for third place in the MAAC.
In addition to having beaten Monmouth twice, Quinnipiac has also split its season series with Iona, which is tied for first place in the conference. In their inaugural year in the MAAC, it would be safe to say that Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore and the Bobcats have proven that they can compete.
In fact, given their remaining schedule and recent success, Quinnipiac could make some noise in the conference tournament come March.
The Bobcats have 10 games remaining on their schedule, with only two coming against opponents with an overall record above .500. And though they were beaten by Iona on the road Friday night, Quinnipiac’s numbers indicate that it has been an underappreciated team all season long.
In Iona’s 95-73 trouncing of Quinnipiac, the Gaels won the rebound battle 45-37. That ended the Bobcats 49-game streak of outrebounding their opponent, an NCAA Division I record. All of this came in a game that starting center Ousmane Drame sat out of, and Drame is currently grabbing 9.8 rebounds per game this year.
Quinnipiac returned back to its roots on Sunday, as Moore’s squad took the rebound margin 50-39. It’s worth mentioning that the Bobcats lead the MAAC in rebounding margin against opponents, as they sit at +27, more than eight rebounds greater than any other team.
They lead the league in defensive rebounds by a commanding total, and are even grabbing 42.6 percent of the rebounds that present themselves on the offensive end.
Because of this drastic advantage the Bobcats have in both size and physicality, they need to do just enough on the offensive end on most nights. Quinnipiac is fourth-best in the conference in scoring per game and third-best in free-throw percentage, which has surely met the criteria so far.
Quinnipiac’s record is 7-1 at home, with its only loss at the TD Bank Sports Center coming at the expense of Boston University in early December. Still, its road record of 4-6 might not be indicative of the way they have played.
The Bobcats average 77.6 points per game at home, while also averaging 77.3 on the road. This speaks to their ability to perform at any venue, and sheds a different light on the withstanding situation.
In Moore’s six seasons as Quinnipiac’s head coach, the Bobcats failed to win an Northeast Conference championship and are still looking to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
It may finally be the year they dance.