HAMDEN, Conn. - Junior Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) compiled his sixth consecutive double-double as the top-seeded Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated No. 4 Long Island, 83-78, in front of a season-high 2,845 in Sunday afternoon's NEC Semifinals at the TD Bank Sports Center. With the win, the Bobcats will play host to Wednesday's NEC Tournament Championship, to be aired live nationally on ESPN2. The Bobcats will face the winner of tonight's other semifinal game between Mount St. Mary's and Robert Morris in Moon Township, Pa. at 7 p.m.
With the win, the Bobcats established a new program victories record, pushing their record to 23-8. The 2009-10 team passed the 1972-73 and 1979-80 squads, both of which won 22 games. The Blackbirds' ended their season at 14-17.
"It seems like the script we've been following a lot lately, it seems like we're more resilient and more tough than we are good," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Tom Moore. "It gets us wins, so I'll take it. For the most part, I don't think we played great defense. But I think Jaytornah Wisseh had everything to do with that. When he's playing that well, they're the hardest team to guard in the league from a scheme point. The thing I'm most happy with was how we rebounded down the stretch. We made free throws, another offshoot of toughness. We'll take it and we'll play on Wednesday and hope to be as tough and resilient as we were the last two games."
Rutty finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds, eight each on the offensive and defensive glass. Deontay Twyman (Olney, Md.) chipped in with a career-high 16 points, while James Feldeine (New York, N.Y.) contributed 13 points and Jonathan Cruz (Lawrence, Mass.) added 10 points. James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) had a game-high seven assists.
Jaytornah Wisseh had a game-high 33 points and seven assists for LIU. Jamal Olasewere added a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, while David Hicks had 11 points.
After the Blackbirds started the game on a 10-0 run, the Bobcats responded with six straight. LIU reestablished an eight-point lead on Kenny Onyechi's lay-up at the 13:40 mark, before the Bobcats scored 18 of the next 24 points to take a six-point lead with just over seven minutes to go in the half. The Bobcats' lead swelled to seven points going into the locker room. Rutty and Wisseh led their respective teams with 14 points apiece at the break.
Much like the first half, the Blackbirds began the second with a run. This time, LIU scored 11 of the first 12 points in the stanza to take a three-point advantage. Following seven lead changes and five ties, Quinnipiac took the lead for good on Rutty's lay-up at the 3:51 mark. The Blackbirds made it interesting down the stretch, however. Despite building a nine-point lead at the free-throw line with 34 seconds left, the Bobcats found themselves up just three points with 13 seconds left after Booker Hucks made a lay-up, followed by three-pointers from David Hicks and Michael Culpo. But four straight Twyman free throws iced the game for QU.
For the game, the Blackbirds outshot the Bobcats, 44.9 percent (31-69) to 44.1 percent (26-59) from the floor. The Bobcats took a 37.5 percent (6-16) to 34.8 percent (8-23) advantage from long range and an 80.6 percent (25-31) to 72.7 percent (8-11) edge from the free-throw line. The Bobcats outrebounded the Blackbirds, 40-34.