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Men’s basketball falls to Manhattan, ending MAAC Tournament run
On Sunday at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, Mass. the No. 3 seed Quinnipiac University Bobcats fell to the No. 2 seed Manhattan College Jaspers, 87-68, in the semifinals of the 2014 MAAC Tournament. This loss ended the Bobcats’ first-ever quest for a MAAC championship.
“I’m extremely proud of the season we’ve had,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “It couldn’t have been with a more higher character group of guys, that were selfless, and really sacrificed. I’m really hopeful that we’ll get an invitation to the CIT or CBI or any postseason tournament so that I’ll have more time to work with these young men.”
The Jaspers were looking to clinch their second straight trip to the MAAC championship to set up a rematch against the reigning champs, the Iona Gaels. The Jaspers would do just that, as they took over the game, dominating the Bobcats in the second half. The Jaspers were led by 23 second half points for George Beamon, who made five 3-point baskets on the night. He led all scorers with 25 points. Beamon missed the first game against the Bobcats this season, and only scored 12 points in the second; which resulted in two Bobcat victories.
“It started on the defensive end for me,” Beamon said. “I got some steals and got us in transition and it really opened our offensive game up.”
The start of this game was all about runs. The Jaspers came out firing right from the opening tip, opening up an early 11-1 lead on the Bobcats just three minutes in to the game. After the first media timeout, with just over 15 minutes left in the half, the Bobcats would go on a 10-0 run of their own over the next three minutes to tie the game at 11. The Jaspers responded quickly with another 9-0 run taking a 20-11 lead. Yet again the Bobcats would claw their way back in to this game. The Bobcats would take their first lead of the game 24-23 with just over six minutes left in the first half. For the remainder of the half, the two teams would go basket for basket, and headed in to the locker room tied at 40. Zaid Hearst led all scorers in the first half with 13 points, including an impressive 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
The Jaspers came out firing again in the second half, and this time the Bobcats were never able to regain the lead from them. The Jaspers jumped out to a quick eight-point lead over the Bobcats five minutes in to the half. Behind a strong 21 point performance off the bench from Emmy Andujar the Jaspers were able to dismantle the Bobcats defense and completely disrupt any offensive rhythm for the Bobcats with their full court press. The Jaspers really set the tone and pace for this game right from the get-go and it really showed in the second half of this game. Manhattan used their fast pace and tenacious defense allowed them to open up as much as a 20 point lead with just less than four minutes to play.
“I thought we did a good job of coming out and really forcing pace, and thought we got the game on our terms,” Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello said. “Tonight we said let’s play it on our terms and play a speed game and we did that.”
The Bobcats did have a few bright spots on the night as senior Ike Azotam scored 18 points and 10 rebounds, tallying his 44th career double-double. Another bright spot for the Bobcats was the play of freshman point guard Kasim Chandler who tallied 14 points and 7 assists while single handedly breaking the Jaspers’ full court press all night long.
“Tonight, the kid’s got six weeks of rust on him and he was fearless against their pressure tonight,” Moore said. “Throwing him in there for 31 minutes and he has one turnover against that team as a freshman, I’m pretty proud of him.”
The Bobcats finish the season with a 20-11 record and now wait to see if they will receive an invitation for postseason basketball in one of the national tournaments. Meanwhile, the Jaspers will take on the Iona Gaels on Monday for the MAAC Championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament. The Bobcats should receive their bid within the coming week to see where Tom Moore’s team will head for postseason basketball.