Men’s College Basketball
Quinnipiac University 82, Rider University 61
HAMDEN, CT— Overlooking the Quinnipiac campus here in the Mount Carmel section of Hamden is the Sleeping Giant Mountain, which receives its name from its anthropomorphic resemblance to a slumbering human figure.
On Saturday, the Quinnipiac Bobcats showed they may be a sleeping giant in the MAAC that has awoken.
Winners of eight of their last 11 games, QU out-rebounded Rider 44-30 in a 21-poinit Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory. “Give them credit,” said Rider head coach Kevin Baggett, “they are playing really well right now.”
Quinnipiac is first in the MAAC in rebounding and second in scoring.
“They are big and physical,” Baggett said. “They kicked our butts.”
For Rider (12-11, 8-6 MAAC), it was the fourth game in the last nine days and the sixth game in the last 16 days.
For Quinnipiac (14-8, 9-4 MAAC), it was the first game in a week.
“We’re tired,” Baggett said, “but I don’t want to make any excuses. They played well and beat us. But this is not the team you want to play with just one day to prepare.”
Holding a 42-34 lead, QU out-scored Rider 10-0 to take a 52-34 lead with 15:15 remaining.
Quinnipiac out-scored Rider 10-0 over the final 3:02 of the first half to take a 34-27 lead at halftime.
The Bobcats had five players score in double figures, led by 6’8” Ike Azotam, who compiled 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Rider is third in the MAAC in field goal percentage (.446) but shot just .345 in the first half and .410 for the game.
The Broncs were led by senior Daniel Stewart (Philadelphia, PA/Neumann-Goretti), who compiled 15 points and four rebounds.
Freshman Jimmie Taylor III (Branford, Fla./Suwannee) added 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. “We knew what we needed to do,” Taylor said, “we just didn’t do it.”
Rider’s sophomore Khalil Alford (Raleigh, NC/Fishburne Military) added 10 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench, making five of seven shots from the field.
Rider defeated Quinnipiac 90-78 on December 8 in Lawrenceville. “This league is that good,” Baggett said. “Anybody can beat anybody. We were able to beat them at our place in December and they were able to beat us today. I look forward to playing them again.”
Rider hosts Manhattan Thursday. “We’ll be ready,” Baggett said. “They beat us at their place and we are looking forward to hosting them.”
“We’re on a two-game losing streak so we have to bounce back,” Taylor said. “Manhattan is one of the best teams in the league so we want to beat them.”
Now that the sleeping giant has awoken, Quinnipiac looks to be one of the better teams in the league as well.