HAMDEN, Conn. - Sophomore James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) had a game-high 23 points and eight assists as top-seeded Quinnipiac defeated No. 8 Monmouth, 84-75, before 2,334 in the NEC Tournament Semifinals, Thursday night at the TD Bank Sports Center. With the win, the Bobcats (22-8) tied the program record with their 22nd victory, and advance to play host to No. 4 Long Island in Sunday's NEC Semifinals. The game will be televised live by MSG and Fox College Sports at 2 p.m. The Hawks finished their season at 12-19.
"I don't know how good we were tonight, but at least we were resilient," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Tom Moore. "At least we were tough. I thought we were emotional in the second half, in a good way. The crowd was great. I've dreamed of having an atmosphere like that in this building - dreamed of it. Tonight was really special for me. I want to thank the students and the community for coming out on behalf of the whole program. It was great to play in an environment like that. That was college basketball. I hope we can somehow duplicate it Sunday, and hopefully Wednesday, if we're in that game."
James Feldeine (New York, N.Y.) scored 15 points and added nine rebounds for the Bobcats, while Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) compiled his fifth straight double-double, his 15th of the year, with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Jeremy Baker (Washington, D.C.) added 13 points and Deontay Twyman (Olney, Md.) had 10 points to give the Bobcats five double-figure scorers.
Whitney Coleman scored a team-high 22 points for Monmouth, while Justin Sofman added 21 points on 6-for-10 shooting from long range. Ed Waite added 13 points, while Travis Taylor contributed 11. James Hett had seven assists.
The Bobcats absorbed the Hawks' early punch. After Monmouth built a seven-point lead in the first five and a half minutes, the Bobcats later responded with a 10-0 run to take a five-point lead at the 6:51 mark of the initial stanza. The runs continued as Monmouth reeled off nine straight to regain a four-point edge by the 4:11 mark. The Bobcats tied the game with 18 seconds left in the half on Feldeine's long jumper, before Coleman ended the half with a jumper of his own to send the Hawks into the locker room with a two-point lead.
Coleman led all first-half scorers with 12 points, while Feldeine countered with 10 for the Bobcats. The Hawks shot 41.7 percent from long range (5-12) in the first half, while the Bobcats made all 10 of their first-half free throws.
Rutty opened the second half with a lay-up to tie the game for the third time, before the game would be tied five more times by the 12:52 mark of the second half. Sofman gave the Hawks a three-point cushion with a trifecta at the 12:28 mark, before consecutive Rutty buckets in the paint gave the Bobcats a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The go-ahead bucket came at the 11:03 mark.
Johnson scored the Bobcats' next seven points to build a five-point lead. The advantage held between four and seven points until the two-minute mark. The Bobcats made 12-of-14 free throws down the stretch to keep the Hawks at arm's length.
For the game, the Bobcats outshot the Hawks, 55.3 percent (26-47) to 41.3 percent (26-63) from the field, 44.4 percent (4-9) to 37.0 percent (10-27) from long range and 84.8 percent (28-33) to 65.0 percent (13-20) from the free-throw line. The Bobcats outrebounded their 29th of 30 opponents, taking a 38-28 advantage against the Hawks.