February 5, 2010

Men's Basketball Upends Sacred Heart, 86-71

FAIRFIELD, Conn. - James Feldeine (New York, N.Y.) scored 27 points, while Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) and Jonathan Cruz (Lawrence, Mass.) added double-doubles as the Quinnipiac men's basketball team scored a road victory at Sacred Heart, 86-71, Thursday night at the William H. Pitt Center. Rutty scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his Quinnipiac Division I record 22nd career double-double, while Cruz had 11 points and 11 rebounds in compiling his first career double-double. With the win, the Bobcats improve to 15-7 (9-2 NEC), including an undefeated 12-0 in the state of Connecticut. The 15 wins match their win total from each of the past two seasons. The Pioneers fall to 12-10 (5-6 NEC).

Ryan Litke led the Pioneers with 19 points, including 5-for-11 shooting from long range, while Liam Potter added 15 points. The Bobcats' James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) held the NEC's leading scorer and three-point shooter, Corey Hassan, to just eight points on 4-for-15 shooting, including 0-for-3 from long range. Hassan came into the game averaging 21.4 points per game and shooting 41.7 percent from long range, with a league-best 78 made three-point field goals. Hassan was coming off a 36-point performance in which he hit 10-of-12 three-pointers Saturday at Wagner.

"Hard work and maturity by James Feldeine in preparing for tonight," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Tom Moore. "He came in Tuesday night and Wednesday night and got up extra shots after school and after practice. We got incredible selflessness by James Johnson. He just totally gave up his entire night to get into Corey Hassan and stay with him wherever he goes. It was scary watching Hassan go 10-for-12 from three in the Wagner tape in preparation for this game, but I knew my guy would do a much better job on him. I had no idea that he would hold him to 0-for-3 from three. That's a phenomenal accomplishment by a defender in this guy, Corey Hassan's home court. Just great efforts from both of those guys on opposite ends of the floor."

The Bobcats shot a season-high 60.0 percent (33-55) from the field, their first effort of 60 percent or better since Dec. 19, 2007, against Dartmouth. Meanwhile, the Bobcats held the NEC's most potent shooting team in both field-goal percentage (.452) and three-point field-goal percentage (.419) entering the game to just 39.4 percent (26-66) and 38.1 percent (8-21), respectively. The Bobcats shot 42.9 percent (3-7) from long range, and outshot the Pioneers from the free-throw line, 77.3 percent (17-22) to 73.3 percent (11-15). Quinnipiac outrebounded its 22nd consecutive opponent to begin the season, taking a 39-26 advantage on the boards against the league's second-best team in rebounding margin (+5.6) entering the game.

After the Pioneers scored the game's first points on a Thompson jumper from the left elbow, the Bobcats scored seven straight points and never trailed following Feldeine's fast-break lay-up that made it 4-2 at the 17:19 mark. Sacred Heart pulled back to within two points at 9-7, and after the two teams traded buckets, Quinnipiac went on a 12-0 run to take a 23-9 lead at the 10:51 mark. Rutty converted four straight buckets in the paint in the run.

The lead extended to 17 points, 33-16, on Dave Johnson's (Jackson, N.J.) lay-up at the 4:38 mark. Sacred Heart responded before the half, scoring 10 straight points, including eight from Litke, in just more than a minute. The Pioneers looked to have cut the Bobcats' advantage to six, but Hassan missed a wide-open fast-break dunk with 28 seconds to go. The miss led to a Feldeine three-pointer on the other end, and Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.) added a free throw to give the Bobcats a 40-28 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

Feldeine led the Bobcats with 14 points at the break, while Rutty added 10 points and six rebounds in just 10 foul-plagued minutes. Cruz provided a spark for the Bobcats, contributing five points and eight rebounds. Litke led the Pioneers with 11 first-half points. The Bobcats shot 56.7 percent (17-30) from the field in the first half, while holding SHU to 32.4 percent (12-37).

The Bobcats and Pioneers meet again Saturday in Hamden to complete their NEC Rivalry Week series. Opening tip from the TD Bank Sports Center is scheduled for 3 p.m.