Huskies and Bobcats meet in Paradise Jam semifinals
St. Thomas, VI (Sports Network) - Former Connecticut assistant Tom Moore and his Quinnipiac Bobcats will try to hand the No. 23 Huskies their first loss of the season when the in-state rivals square off in the semifinal round of the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Bobcats improved their record to 2-1 with a thrilling 98-92 overtime win over the Iona Gaels in their first-round matchup. Quinnipiac converted 26- of-31 attempts from the charity stripe and outscored the Gaels 6-0 in the extra session. Moore's team opened up the year with a 65-61 decision over Hartford before being downed by six points at home by the Patriot League's American University Eagles. Quinnipiac, which is a member of the Northeast Conference, finished last season with an 18-14 overall record after it was knocked out of the postseason CBI Tournament by Penn in the first round.
UConn made headlines in the offseason when its Hall of Fame head coach Jim Calhoun called it a career. Calhoun had selected his former point guard Kevin Ollie to be his replacement. Ollie has not disappointed so far as he is currently undefeated with a 3-0 record after wins over No. 14 Michigan State, Vermont, and most recently, Wake Forest. UConn's top tier backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will give it a chance every time it takes the floor this season.
Quinnipiac will be tough to beat if it gets the same type of production from Jamee Jackson and Zaid Hearst as it did versus Iona. Both players scored 17 points and Jackson tied for the team-high with 10 rebounds. Jackson and Hearst's involvement in the offense is vital for the team's leader, Ike Azotam. The Bobcats run their offense through Azotam, who averages a team-best 16.1 ppg. His last time out he was able to record a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but he turned the ball over nine times in the contest.
Napier and Boatright scored 16 points each to tie for the team-lead in UConn's triumph over Wake Forest in the first round. Both players realized their shooting touch was not there, but attacked the basket to earn double-digit attempts at the free throw line. Boatright added seven rebounds and five assists in the contest, while forward DeAndre Daniels netted 12 points. Napier, who was a contributor on UConn's National Championship team two seasons ago, is leading the team in scoring thanks to a 25-point outburst versus Michigan State in the season opener.