Quinnipiac (15-15) at Long Island (17-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center (2,500) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Quinnipiac 8-6, LIU 11-4. Away Record: Quinnipiac 6-7, LIU 6-9. Neutral Record: Quinnipiac 1-2, LIU 0-0. Conference Record: Quinnipiac 11-7, LIU 12-6. Series Record: LIUleads, 16-15.
GAMES NOTES: Looking to make history the two time defending Northeast Conference Tournament champion Long Island Blackbirds will begin their title defense against the Quinnipiac Bobcats as the league tourney gets underway at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center on Wednesday.
This will be the second game in the last five days between these teams. In the regular-season finale on Saturday, Long Island captured a 96-90 win in a conference shootout. The teams split the season series, while the Blackbirds own a slim, 16-15 edge all-time.
Quinnipiac has been to the semifinals or further in each of the last four NEC Tournaments but the Bobcats have still yet to secure a conference crown. This season the Bobcats were an even 15-15 overall, securing the sixth seed in the tourney with an 11-7 record against league foes. The Bobcats did stumble with two losses to close out the regular season.
Long Island won its second straight NEC tourney crown last season and if it can make a run to a third it would become the first team in conference history to win three straight. The Blackbirds won their last two games of the season to finish 17-13 and 12-6 in league play. The Blackbirds tied with Wagner and Bryant for second in the conference but had to settle for the No. 3 seed due to conference tiebreaker procedures.
In the regular-season finale between these teams both teams had impressive offensive showings. The Bobcats shot at a 49.3 percent clip from the field and were led by 24 points from Dave Johnson. They also had a 37-31 edge in rebounds and a 14-4 advantage in second chance points.
Not only did the Bobcats fight to even in the standings but also on the scoreboard this season. They own a slim (+0.4) margin on the campaign by scoring 71.4 points per game, shooting just under 43 percent from the field. The Bobcats are a remarkable team on the boards as they rank at the very top of the country in rebounds (41.9 pg). Ike Azotam (13.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Ousmane Drame (9.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg) are pillars in the frontcourt and two of the better rebounders in the conference. Zaid Hearst (10.9 ppg) is the only other double-figure scorer on the roster.
Long Island rallied from a nine-point deficit at halftime to defeat Quinnipiac. The Blackbirds were on fire in the second half as they connected on 67.9 percent from the field, while hitting 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. Jamal Olasewere (33 points, 10 rebounds ) and C.J. Garner (30 points) each had tremendous games in the win.
Olasewere (19.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg) was just named NEC Player of the Year earlier this week after posting a sensational senior season. The 6-foot-7 forward had seven double-doubles in seven league tilts and ranked among the top five players in the conference in both points and rebounds. Garner (14.8 ppg) has been scoring just fine on his own as another prolific scorer for the high- octane Blackbirds. Long Island leads the NEC in scoring (78.2 ppg) with that mark good enough for 10th in the country. The Blackbirds are also second in the NEC in assists (15.2 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.473).
Led by Olasewere, the Blackbirds have been unstoppable on the offensive end of the floor. As long as they can get enough stops on the defensive end, they should roll on to the next round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Long Island 88, Quinnipiac 80
03/06 10:35:02 ET