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Men’s basketball regains steam with win over Robert Morris
After Thursday’s devastating loss to St. Francis (Pa.), the Bobcats got back on track on Saturday to remain in the hunt for their first ever NEC regular season championship.
The second-place Quinnipiac men’s basketball team (19-8, 13-3 NEC) picked up a crucial road victory on Saturday night by defeating first-place Robert Morris (19-10, 14-2 NEC) 87-79 at the Charles L. Sewall Center to move within one game of the NEC lead and the No. 1 seed in the NEC Tournament.
“To beat a team as good as Robert Morris in their gym is a great accomplishment for us,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “The challenge in front of us tonight was to play harder and stronger and a lot tougher than we played Thursday night and we accomplished that. The second task in front of us tonight was to try and execute precise, tough offense against the best defensive team in the NEC and we accomplished that. We felt that that would give us the best chance to win the game. My guys really stepped up. I’m very proud of them.”
Sophomore guard James Johnson led the Bobcats with 28 points, 13 of which coming from the free throw line. Johnson, who has started in 58 consecutive games to start his career, also added six rebounds and six assists.
“[Johnson] did a great job (in the mid-range game) in real key spots down the stretch,” Moore said. “He was in attack mode, but controlled attack, which was important. James has been phenomenal. When you think about all the responsibility he had tonight – he never fatigues, never backs away from a challenge. He’s a special player and a kid.”
Justin Rutty earned his 25th career and NEC-leading 12th double-double of the season, recording 17 points and 11 rebounds. James Feldeine, Deontay Twyman and Jonathan Cruz scored 15, 10 and 10 respectively for the Bobcats.
Leading just 64-61 with 7:35 left in the second half, the Bobcats went on an 11-4 run to build up a double-digit lead. Johnson added six points during this run – four in a span of 30 seconds – to cap the run at 75-65 with 2:25 remaining in the game.
“He’s [Johnson] probably got the best work ethic on our team in terms of shooting,” Moore said. “He’s got incredible will, incredible toughness, and I think he’s the best conditioned basketball player in this league.”
The Bobcats shot 50.9 percent from the field for the game, including 50 percent from the three-point line, compared to Robert Morris’ 46.6 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from downtown. They out-rebounded the Colonials 37-28 and have now outrebounded 26 of the 27 teams they have faced this season.
Quinnipiac also snapped Robert Morris’ 12-game winning-streak over NEC opponents, as well as a 19-game home winning streak against these opponents.
Quinnipiac will play their final two regular season games this week when they host Monmouth on Thursday night for their final regular season home game. On Saturday the team will travel to Fairleigh Dickinson to close out the regular season. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 7:30 PM.