Quinnipiac knocks off Iona, faces UConn in semifinals

Former UConn assistant Tom Moore, once thought to be the successor for Jim Calhoun, gets a date with the Huskies in Sunday’s semifinal.

Moore’s Quinnipiac Bobcats defeated Iona, 98-92, in a wild overtime game that saw Gaels guard Lamont “MoMo” Jones score 40 points and hit a game-tying 3-pointer to force the extra session.

But Iona, loaded in the backcourt, couldn’t hang with Quinnipiac up front. Forward Ike Azotam, a former AAU teammate of Shabazz Napier’s, led the Bobcats with 21 points and 10 boards.

I’ll have more on the UConn/Quinnipiac (Sunday, 9 p.m.) on the blog and in the paper tomorrow. For now, some quotes from Moore:

*”It’s a great opportunity for Quinnipiac to be playing a team as storied as UConn, both nationally and in-state. It has huge implications for our alumni, students and fans. They obviously have years and years of living in Connecticut and hearing about UConn. It’s nothing but respect and good feelings towards them. It’s a great opportunity for us, as our program grows. We sort of treat this trip as a chance for us to grow our name nationally a little bit and I think playing on national TV against a team like this will help that…All that stuff sounds great, but now the task is on us to play well when we play them.”

*This will be the second time Moore faces UConn. He faced UConn in 2007 — his first season at the helm — and left the XL Center with an 82-49 defeat.

“It was a real awkward feeling playing coach Calhoun and playing all the kids that I had recruited,” Moore said. “We felt more comfortable not continuing the series at that point. Maybe some day in the future, it will continue. I’m not sure.”