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52-50 no more, Bobcats exact revenge on Colonials
Quinnipiac beats Robert Morris, 69-61
For James Johnson and the Bobcat squad, the score 52-50 wasn’t just a memory – it was motivation. So when Robert Morris rolled into town nearly a year after the two-point NEC Championship loss, it was time to deal with some unfinished business.
“I’ve had the 52-50 burned in my mind since last summer,” Johnson said. “I knew I wanted these guys. I just took it personal and I just needed this one for myself just to close the book.”
Quinnipiac (13-7, 5-4 NEC) rolled to a 69-61 win at the TD Bank Sports Center on Thursday, and Johnson paved the way. The junior guard got his revenge to the tone of a career-high 38 points on 12-21 shooting (7-13 from three-point range), besting his previous high of 28.
The junior guard didn’t do it alone as he was assisted by the return of reigning NEC Player of the Year Justin Rutty. The senior forward entered the game at the 15:54 mark of the first half with a heavy bandage on his right elbow. Expected to miss up to four weeks following surgery on Jan. 14, his first trip to the scorer’s table was greeted with a resounding cheer from the student section and his teammates.
“I just gave them a boost that’s the way I look at it and especially for this game this is the perfect one to give them a boost for,” said Rutty.
The elbow limited Rutty early on but by the end of the game he looked like the reigning Player of the Year as he finished with six points and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Johnson, however, was not to be denied on this night. He took over the game from the opening tip as the Bobcats never trailed on their way to victory. Johnson and Deontay Twyman (14 points, five assists) combined for two quick three-pointers to start the game and Quinnipiac jumped to an early 20-7 lead.
It wasn’t until the 1:48 mark of the first half before a Rutty layup ended a streak of 28 straight points for Johnson and Twyman, leading the Bobcats to a 30-23 halftime score.
Johnson also showed up on the defensive end as he held the Colonial’s leading scorer and nemesis in the championship game, Karon Abraham, to a quiet 10 points.
“James Johnson really did a good job on the ball,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “I don’t think he let Karon three feet out of his sight the entire game.”
The victory comes at just the right time for the Bobcats as they were in the middle of a three-game losing streak and will move on to play Saint Francis (Pa.) at home tomorrow.
Below, James Johnson talks about his career night on MSG:
Photo credit: Lenny Neslin, Matt Eisenberg
Video credit: QU Athletics