Three Thoughts: Quinnipiac 88, Yale 85 (2OT)

In a rematch of their CollegeInsider.com meeting in March, Quinnipiac got revenge on local rival Yale by downing the Bulldogs 88-85 in double overtime.

Ousmane Drame finishes a dunk against Monmouth 1/16/2014 (photo courtesy: Matt Eisenberg)
Ousmane Drame finishes a dunk against Monmouth 1/16/2014 (photo courtesy: Matt Eisenberg)

Quinnipiac’s frontcourt will be just fine without Ike Azotam. Ousmane Drame showed why he was an All-MAAC first team unanimous selection by posting a double double with 13 points and 15 rebounds while adding seven blocks. Freshmen Samuel Dingba and Chaise Daniels filled in before running into foul trouble, but the other star of the frontcourt was senior Justin Harris.

Harris, who has been a benchwarmer for much of his time at Quinnipiac, went five of six from the field while posting a career high 12 points. His securing of a Yale turnover at the end of the second overtime and subsequent free throws helped seal the game for the Bobcats

“To earn my minutes, I’ve got to be the first one to the basketball,” Harris joked after the game. “I know when the ball is loose, someone’s got to go for it.”

Rebounding continues to be the name of the game for Quinnipiac, as they won the battle of the boards 54-38 to the chagrin of Yale head coach James Jones.

“We were certainly exposed in our rebounding. That’s something we hang our hat on and we didn’t do a good job.”

Justin Sears and Zaid Hearst will each remain in the conversation for conference player of the year. It may be only one game in, but Sears and Hearst have set early benchmarks for their conference rivals. Sears has gotten plenty of attention during the preseason as an Ivy League player of the year candidate while Hearst, an All-MAAC second team selection, starts the year as an outsider in the MAAC.

Sears showed why the hype around his candidacy is real with a 23 point, 12 rebound performance. He was eclipsed only by teammate Javier Duren, who led the Bulldogs with 26 total points. Hearst led all scorers with a career high of 34 points and completed his own double double with 11 rebounds.

“I just want to win,” Hearst said. “At this point, nothing matters but winning. I’ve been here three years and we haven’t won anything, so just winning is the main thing we all want.”

This local rivalry is growing. Though the “War of Whitney Ave.” is better known for the hockey rendition, including Yale’s victory over Quinnipiac in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship game, these two schools have embraced a basketball rivalry as well.

For Quinnipiac, this was the second consecutive game they’ve played against the Bulldogs. After being ousted from the CollegeInsider.com tournament in March, the Bobcats had all summer to think about revenge. The victory was hard-earned, and will certainly boost Quinnipiac’s overall resume by year’s end.

“I think as the season goes on this win will look better and better because Yale is going to win a lot of games this year,” head coach Tom Moore said.

Regardless of being a potential resume-builder, Moore also expressed appreciation for the fan support on both sides. TD Bank arena was filled with both Bobcat gold and Bulldog blue, which only means good things for the growth of this rivalry.

“I got good feedback from students who were here,” Moore said. “I think our faculty, administration, and the greater New Haven and Hamden community have done a great job coming out. You have a night like this and it’s a fun time.”

Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac and the MAAC for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.

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