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James Johnson catches fire
‘Cats clinch tourney berth on late run
James Johnson has been one of the go-to shooters all season long for the Bobcats. Even when he missed his first six shots Monday night, his teammates kept giving him the ball.
He eventually found his old reliable stroke from the perimeter.
Johnson, known as “Bo,” hit two clutch 3-pointers in the final 1:47 to give Quinnipiac a 55-48 victory over Sacred Heart at the William H. Pitt Center, clinching a spot in the conference tournament for the Bobcats.
“I have all the confidence in myself,” said Johnson, who finished with 12 points, all in the second half. “When I shoot the ball I feel like it’s going in. Coach just told me to keep shooting and luckily they went down at a big time.”
Johnson broke a 48-all tie when he shot a 3-pointer from the left wing, and then gave the Bobcats a two-possession lead when he made another shot from the top of the key as the shot clock expired.
“There was no pressure because the shot clock was running down and I knew I had to shoot it – everybody knew I had to shoot it,” Johnson said. “I just had to take my time and make the shot.”
And he did.
Johnson has started every game for QU since his arrival, and he moved past Kason Mims for consecutive starts for a Bobcat, playing in his 89th straight game.
“He’s a really hard worker, a really tough-minded kid, a really confident kid, and he just has incredible self-belief,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “I’m really proud of that streak.”
Johnson and the rest of the Bobcats found a way to hold Pioneers’ Shane Gibson, the league’s third-leading scorer, to three points.
“James Johnson did a real good job on him in the first half,” Moore said. “In the second half, because they were weaving so much, it was a cumulative effort for all our guards.”
Justin Rutty scored 13 points and brought down seven rebounds for the Bobcats (17-8, 9-5 NEC), who remain in a third-place tie with Wagner in the conference. Lance Brown added 12 points and led the team with eight rebounds.
Louis Montes recorded a double-double for Sacred Heart (9-16, 4-10), tallying 12 points and 14 rebounds. Jerrell Thompson led the Pioneers in scoring with 13 points.
Quinnipiac plays conference-opponent Bryant on the road Thursday night.
Photo credit: Charlotte Greene