HAMDEN, Conn. Bryan Geffen (Queens, N.Y.) scored 19 of his career-high 24 points in the second half as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team erased a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat Saint Francis (Pa.), 65-58, Saturday afternoon at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. James Feldeine (New York, N.Y.) contributed 17 points, while Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) compiled his fifth double-double of the year with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Rutty also added two blocks and two steals for Quinnipiac, which improved to 7-8 (3-2 NEC). The Red Flash fell to 4-11 (1-4 NEC).
Marquis Ford and Mislav Jukic scored 19 points apiece to lead Saint Francis. Kyle Johnson added 10 points and four steals.
Trailing 42-28 with 13:14 remaining in regulation, the Bobcats applied full-court pressure to ignite their offense. The defense forced five turnovers, leading to a 17-2 run and a 45-44 advantage with 5:35 remaining. The Bobcats also held Saint Francis without a field goal for a span of over 10 minutes in the second half. Geffen was instrumental in starting the run, figuring in on eight straight points. He hit a three, assisted on another and buried two free throws, to cut the deficit to six with 10:34 left.
Ford hit two of three free throws after being fouled in the act of shooting from long range to break up the initial Quinnipiac eight-point spurt. But the Bobcats went back on the offensive, with nine straight points to regain the lead. Feldeine capped the run with a pair of free throws at the 5:35 mark.
Saint Francis punched back as Jukic made four straight free throws to give the Red Flash a pair of leads. But a James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) jumper tied it with 4:29 remaining and Feldeine's three at the 3:42 mark put the Bobcats up for good. The Red Flash rallied to within two points twice, but Geffen immediately answered each time. His three-pointer with 3:20 remaining pushed the Bobcats' lead to five and his jumper in the paint gave Quinnipiac a four-point cushion with 1:23 remaining.
"I'm proud of how our guys pressed with energy," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Tom Moore. "It's sometimes hard to play with a big lead, too. Saint Francis, all of a sudden, looks (at the scoreboard) and they're up 14 and they made the right decision to try to use clock. But at that point, I figured we had to do something for ourselves to maybe get fortunate and tip a ball or steal a ball and that leads to a transition offensive opportunity. We were able to go play offense off of (the press). So we'd get a lay-up or an open three and now we're bouncing and the crowd gets into it. (The press) had the desired effect when we put it on."
The Red Flash took a 27-21 advantage into the locker room at halftime after shooting 48.0 percent (12-25) in the first half. Rutty led all first-half scorers with eight points, while Marquis Ford countered with seven points for the Red Flash.
Saint Francis jumped out to a 9-4 lead on Kyle Jackson's jumper in the paint just over four and a half minutes into regulation. The lead extended to eight points, 16-8, just under nine minutes in but the Bobcats responded with a 9-0 run to take a 17-16 lead with 6:37 remaining in the half. Geffen started the run with a three and capped it with an acrobatic lay-up while being fouled. But the Red Flash scored 11 of the final 15 points in the stanza to take a six-point lead at the break.
For the game, the Bobcats outshot the Red Flash, 51.2 percent (22-43) to 40.0 percent (20-50) from the floor and 40.0 percent (6-15) to 23.5 percent (4-17) from three-point range. Saint Francis held a 66.7 percent (14-21) to 55.6 percent (15-27) advantage from the free-throw line and outrebounded the Bobcats, 31-29.
Quinnipiac returns to action Thursday, when the Bobcats travel to Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., to take on St. Francis (N.Y.). Opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Pope Physical Education Center.