GAME NOTES: The Oregon State Beavers return to the mainland for a non-league bout with the Quinnipiac Bobcats on Sunday, as the two teams match up at Gill Coliseum in the first-ever meeting.
This contest is the final one in non-league play for Quinnipiac, which will get back to work in the MAAC on Thursday against Iona. The Bobcats, who split their first two conference contests, are 5-3 in non-league action, although they have lost two of their last three.
During this past week, the Beavers participated in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. Oregon State's trip was largely a disappointment, with the team going 1-2 with losses to Akron and Hawaii, and a win over George Mason. The Beavers are now sitting at 7-4 overall, with their Pac-12 opener against No. 21 Colorado looming.
In its most recent letdown, Quinnipiac was defeated by Lehigh in a 69-58 final. The Bobcats only shot 33.3 percent from the floor in the loss, including a pitiful 0-of-16 from beyond the arc. The poor shooting wiped out the 43-33 edge on the glass.
Putting in work on the boards has been an obvious strength for Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are second in the nation in rebounds (46.7 pg), which is a necessary skill for a team that hopes to win while shooting just 41.2 percent from the field. Ike Azotam (16.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg) is a double-double machine, as well as the team's leading scorer. Zaid Hearst (14.5 ppg, 9 rpg) joins Azotam on the interior, as does Ousmane Drame (13 ppg, 7.9 rpg). Umar Shannon (11.1 ppg) is hitting just 33.6 percent of his shots from the floor, while talented reserve Kasim Chandler (10.3 ppg) only connects on 37.9 percent.
During its final bout in the Diamond Head Classic, Oregon State did more damage to itself than it could overcome. The Beavers turned the ball over 17 times and wre outscored, 22-10, off miscues in the six-point loss to Hawaii. Roberto Nelson scored a game-high 24 points to keep OSU in it, but too many extra points cost the Beavers dearly.
The Bobcats may not be able to record as many rebounds as they are used to on Sunday, if only because the Beavers are so efficient on offense. They net 51.2 percent of their attempts from the floor, ranking fifth nationally, while netting just under 80 ppg. Oregon State will need to improve quickly on the glass, as it is last in the Pac-12 in rebounds (33.7 pg). Nelson (21.5 ppg, 3.9 apg) can always be counted on to knock down shots, but his improvements have a passer have been most encouraging for Craig Robinson's squad. Devon Collier (18.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg) is a talented frontcourt player, but he is missing battery mate Angus Brandt (12 ppg, 4.6 rpg), who has missed the last two games and is listed as questionable with a sprained right knee.
Clearly without Brandt the Beavers will have a bit more trouble handling the Bobcats litany of frontcourt performers. However, Oregon State is a much better shooting team than Quinnipiac, which will wipe out any edge the Bobcats have on the glass.
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