ORONO, Maine - James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) had a game-high 16 points to go along with four steals and four assists as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated Maine, 59-46, Tuesday night at Alfond Arena. Jeremy Baker (Washington, D.C.) added his first-career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Bobcats moved to 3-1. The Black Bears fell to 2-3 with the loss.
"James Johnson really stepped up big for us at both ends of the floor tonight," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Tom Moore. "He was terrific defensively again on a premier two-guard. To hold (McLemore) to 0-3 from three is really an accomplishment. He had a lot of help from our wings hedging out, actively and big on McLemore when he came off screens. His stamina is just phenomenal. In the second half, when nine other guys looked like they were on fumes out there, he's got the toughness to take and make big threes. He's a kid who works religiously on his shooting. It was a great night for him again here tonight, just like last year, which was kind of his breakout game (10 points, seven assists at Maine on Nov. 25, 2008)."
Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) paced the Bobcats with 10 of his 14 points in the first half. Johnson made 4-of-6 from long range, with the four three-pointers giving him a new career high. Jonathan Cruz (Lawrence, Mass.) also had a strong outing with six points and six rebounds. For the game, the Bobcats held Maine to just 30.6 percent (19-62) from the field, including just 25.9 percent (7-27) in the second half.
Troy Barnies led Maine with 11 points, while Sean McNally narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds, to go along with three blocks. Murphy Burnatowski came off the bench to score eight points and grab five rebounds. Gerald McLemore, the Black Bears leading scorer entering the game, scored just six points under intense defensive pressure from Johnson. McLemore went scoreless in the second half, marking the second time this season that Johnson has held a team's leading scorer without a point in the second half of a game (Hartford's Joe Zeglinski, Nov. 13).
"I thought we got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys," said Moore. "We had way too many turnovers and we're making things a little too difficult on ourselves offensively, but to hold a team to 26 percent field-goal shooting in the second half and hold them to one offensive rebound in the last 15 minutes is quite an accomplishment."
After trailing by as many as 13 in the first half and by six at halftime, the Black Bears closed to within one point on Junior Bernal's lay-up while being fouled at the 16:42 mark of the second half. But Bernal missed the free-throw attempt at a three-point play that would have tied it. Johnson's three-pointer on the other end gave the Bobcats' separation and the lead gradually swelled to as many as 16 points.
The first half ended with the Bobcats possessing a six-point advantage, 31-25. Rutty led all scorers with 10 points at the break, while five Maine players scored at least four points apiece, led by McLemore's six. McNally paced all players with nine rebounds at the break. The Bobcats outshot the Black Bears, 44.8 percent (13-29) to 34.3 percent (12-35), but nine Maine offensive rebounds led to 10 second-chance points.
For the game, the Bobcats outshot the Black Bears, 45.3 percent (24-53) to 30.6 percent (19-63) from the floor. Maine took a 66.7 percent (6-9) to 54.5 percent (6-11) from the free-throw line. The Bobcats outrebounded Maine, 40-37.
The Bobcats return to action Monday, when they travel to Annapolis, Md., to take on the United States Naval Academy. Opening tip from Alumni Hall is scheduled for 7 p.m.