HAMDEN, Conn. Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) posted his sixth double-double of the year with 22 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, but the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team was defeated by Sacred Heart, 70-66, Thursday night at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. With the loss, the Bobcats fall to 8-10 (4-4 NEC), while the Pioneers improve to 7-11 (4-4 NEC).
Bryan Geffen (Queens, N.Y.) added 17 points, while James Feldeine (New York, N.Y.) contributed 15 points. Joey Henley scored a game-high 25 points, while Ryan Litke (14) and Ryon Howard (13) also finished in double figures for the Pioneers.
For the game, the Pioneers outshot the Bobcats, 49.1 percent (27-55) to 44.4 percent (28-63) from the floor and 40.0 percent (4-10) to 30.8 percent (4-13) from long range. Quinnipiac outrebounded Sacred Heart, 44-36.
"Not only is (Rutty) right now, head and shoulders, our best player, but he's morphed into our best competitor, too," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Tom Moore. "I'm looking for guys who can compete longer and deeper into games. I'm really disappointed in a lot of our guys ability to keep grinding through tough times on the court... not being great players, but just grinding through tough times. At times, we play young. At times, we play like we're waiting for the hammer to fall. Justin never plays that way. His will and competitiveness are very strong."
The Pioneers took their first lead of the game on Henley's bucket while being fouled with 14:50 remaining in regulation. While Henley was unsuccessful on the three-point play conversion, Ryon Howard was there for the putback to make it a four-point trip and a three-point lead for Sacred Heart.
The lead extended to five on Mehmet Sahan's transition lay-up with 11:35 left and Henley's bucket in the paint with 9:21 remaining gave the Pioneers a six-point advantage. A pair of Feldeine free throws and consecutive Rutty field goals from close range tied the game at 58-58 just prior to the seven-minute mark.
The teams traded the next four buckets to leave the game tied, 62-62, with four minutes left. But back-to-back Howard buckets gave the Pioneers a four-point cushion, 66-62, with 2:09 remaining, a deficit the Bobcats couldn't overcome.
Geffen and Rutty both reached double figures by the end of the first half with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Rutty also added eight rebounds before the break. Henley led the Pioneers with nine points, while Litke added eight. The Bobcats outshot Sacred Heart, 50.0 percent (16-32) to 42.9 percent (12-28) in the first half, including a 40.0 percent (4-10) to 33.3 percent (2-6) advantage from beyond the three-point arc. Quinnipiac also owned a 22-16 edge on the glass.
The Bobcats immediately jumped in front in the early going and never trailed in the stanza. Quinnipiac scored nine of the first 12 points of the game, including five from Feldeine. After the Pioneers drew to within two points, 14-12, on a Litke three-pointer with 13:41 left in the first half, six straight Rutty points sparked a 9-2 Quinnipiac run to give the Bobcats a nine-point lead with 10:43 remaining in the half.
Geffen's three-pointer pushed the Bobcats' lead to its high-point, 32-20, with 5:49 remaining in the first half. But the Pioneers responded with a 6-0 run to close to within six with 4:54 left. Sacred Heart continued to whittle away at the lead late in the half, as consecutive buckets from Chauncey Hardy and Henley cut the Quinnipiac advantage to two points, 36-34, with 1:12 left in the stanza.
But the Bobcats took the momentum back heading into the locker room. Feldeine connected on one-of-two free throws, and after Sean Light (Colts Neck, N.J.) drew a charge on the defensive end, Eric Coggins (Syracuse, N.Y.) beat the halftime buzzer to give the Bobcats a five-point lead, 39-34, at the break.
The Bobcats return to action Saturday at Central Connecticut. Opening tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Detrick Gym.