MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - James Johnson (New York, N.Y.) scored a career-high 28 points and added six rebounds and six assists as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated first-place Robert Morris, 87-79, Saturday night at the Sewall Center. With the win, the Bobcats clinch at least the No. 2 position in the Northeast Conference Tournament, and keep themselves in contention for the NEC Regular Season Championship. The win moves the Bobcats to 19-8 (13-3 NEC), the most victories in program Division I history, both overall and in the conference. The Colonials fall to 19-10 (14-2 NEC).
Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) compiled his NEC-leading 12th double-double of the season, the 25th of his career, with 17 points and 11 rebounds. James Feldeine (New York, N.Y.) added 15 points, while Jonathan Cruz (Lawrence, Mass.) and Deontay Twyman (Olney, Md.) contributed 10 points apiece.
Rob Robinson scored a team-high 16 points for the Colonials, while Velton Jones added 15 points and a game-high seven assists. Karon Abraham (12) and Russell Johnson (11) also finished in double figures for Robert Morris.
"To beat a team as good as Robert Morris in their gym is a great accomplishment for us," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Tom Moore. "The challenge in front of us tonight was to play harder and stronger and a lot tougher than we played Thursday night and we accomplished that. The second task in front of us tonight was to try and execute precise, tough offense against the best defensive team in the NEC and we accomplished that. We felt that that would give us the best chance to win the game. My guys really stepped up. I'm very proud of them."
A close game throughout, the Bobcats trailed for only one minute and 34 seconds of the contest. Quinnipiac led throughout the first half, building a lead as large as seven points in the early going when Feldeine knocked down a three-pointer to make it 11-4 at the 16:02 mark. Robert Morris twice cut the Bobcats' lead down to one point and the Bobcats regained the seven-point lead at the 5:38 mark of the period when Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) threaded the needle to Rutty for an uncontested dunk. Robert Morris methodically whittled the Bobcats' lead down to two heading into the locker room at halftime.
After the Bobcats rebuilt a six-point lead in the early going of the second half, RMU went on a 7-0 lead to take its first lead of the game. Robinson capped the run with a fast-break dunk at the 18:02 mark. The teams went back and forth, with Robert Morris establishing two-point leads on three occasions, before James Johnson's three-pointer with 15:06 left put the Bobcats on top for good.
The Colonials kept it close until the Bobcats went on a 6-0 run to extend to a double-digit lead following a pair of James Johnson free throws with 2:25 remaining. RMU could draw no closer than five points the rest of the way.
For the game, the Bobcats outshot the Colonials, 50.9 percent (27-53) to 46.6 percent (27-58) from the floor and 50.0 percent (7-14) to 39.1 percent (9-23) from long range. Quinnipiac outrebounded the Colonials, 37-28. Robert Morris took a 72.7 percent (16-22) to 70.3 percent (26-37) from the free-throw line.
The Bobcats return home to face Monmouth in their final home game of the regular season Thursday. Opening tip from the TD Bank Sports Center is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.