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22-0 start propels Quinnipiac to victory
Quinnipiac defeats Saint Francis (Pa.), 75-55
If Marv Albert was the commentator for the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team on Saturday at the TD Bank Sports Center, “Look at that Tenacious D!” would have been heard echoing through the rafters as Quinnipiac started the game on a 22-0 run.
Quinnipiac’s defense held Saint Francis (Pa.) scoreless for the first 8:37 as it forced the Red Flash into 15 first-half turnovers. In the end they coasted to a 75-55 victory.
“We fed off of our defensive energy to start the game,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said.
The Bobcats (14-7, 6-4 NEC) had their best start to a game this season and arguably their best first half of the season. Unfortunately for the Red Flash (7-14, 5-5 NEC), their five-game winning streak looked non existing.
When the Red Flash didn’t turn the ball over, they had trouble finding the bottom of the net. They shot just 26.3 percent from the floor in the half while Quinnipiac shot 46 percent. Quinnipiac closed the half with a 35-16 lead including 28 points in the paint.
Saint Francis played much better in the second half, but could not cut into the lead as the points in the paint continued to add up. After having 10 points in the paint against Robert Morris on Thursday, the Bobcats erupted for 46 on Saturday.
Dave Johnson led the team with a career-high 10 assists as well as three steals.
“Dave’s got the highest IQ offensively of anyone in our program,” Moore said. “He’s got the best vision of any passer in the program.”
Justin Rutty, who is still seeing limited playing time because of his injured right elbow, had a game-high of 12 points in just 17 minutes, shooting 6-for-10 from the field. James Johnson, Jamee Jackson and Deontay Twyman joined Rutty in double figures as Johnson and Jackson had 11 while Twyman added 10.
Scott Eatherton led the Red Flash with 11 points and three blocks.
The Bobcats bench was deeper than usual, as both Rutty and Lance Brown suited up and got playing time. Brown has been recovering from a concussion but played eight minutes tonight.
“I had five big guys to rotate along two spots for the first time in a while and all of them deserved more minutes than they got,” Moore said.
One game changer that won’t show up in the box score was James Johnson’s ability to cover St. Francis leading scorer Umar Shannon. Shannon, who averages 15.2 points per game was held to just three.
“Only James Johnson can take a 5-foot-11 two guard, who’s the fourth leading scorer in the league coming off of a 30-point night and hold him to 1-for-5, with no assists and four turnovers,” Moore said.
With 13 minutes remaining, Saint Francis (Pa.) was within 17 points and seemed ready to strike. Dave Johnson had the ball as the shot clock was ticking down and was trying to find an open teammate. He then flung the ball across the court to James Johnson who jumped up and snagged the overthrown pass with one hand. As the crowd counted down the clock he turned, lined up his shot, and drained a 3-pointer as the shot clock buzzer sounded to put the Bobcats up 50-30 and kill any chance of a comeback.
The Bobcats enjoyed their biggest lead of the game with 6:39 remaining when James Johnson hit one of his three 3-pointers of the day to give Quinnipiac a 31-point advantage. They’ll travel to Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., to face NEC opponent St. Francis (N.Y.) on Thursday.