FAIRFIELD, Conn. - James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) scored all 12 of his points on four second-half three-pointers, including two late to put the Bobcats on top for good, as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated Sacred Heart, 55-48, Monday night at the William H. Pitt Center. With the win, the Bobcats improve to 17-8 (9-5 NEC), and take a sweep of Sacred Heart (9-16, 4-10 NEC) in NEC Rivalry Week.
Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) scored a game-high 13 points for the Bobcats, while Lance Brown (Teaneck, N.J.) added 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Quinnipiac turned 24 Sacred Heart turnovers into 21 points. After going 0-8 in the first half from long range, the Bobcats made 7-of-12 from distance in the second half. Johnson started his Quinnipiac Division I record 89th consecutive game, passing Kason Mims '04. He's started every game Quinnipiac has played in his three-year career.
Louis Montes led Sacred Heart with a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds. Jerrell Thompson added a team-high 13 points for the Pioneers.
After Montes knocked down a three-pointer to tie the game at 48-48 with 2:21 remaining in regulation, Johnson nailed a trifecta of his own from the left wing at the 1:47 mark. After the Bobcats forced a Thompson miss from long distance on the next Sacred Heart possession, Johnson nailed another dagger with 49 seconds left. The Bobcats kept the Pioneers off the board the rest of the way, with Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) hitting a free throw to account for the final 55-48 margin.
Rutty scored on a putback at the 19:43 mark of the first half and the Bobcats never trailed in the initial stanza. The Bobcats scored eight of the first 11 points to begin the game, including four from Rutty. The Pioneers pulled even on a Montes three-pointer and an Evan Kelley bucket at the 14:10 mark.
Quinnipiac scored the next five points on a Dominique Langston (Bridgeport, Conn.) bucket in the paint and an Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) conventional three-point play at the 11:51 mark. The spurt extended to 11-3, capped by Rutty's fast-break lay-up to make it 19-11 Quinnipiac with 5:02 left in the half. But the Pioneers scored eight of the final 10 points of the half to close to within two points, 21-19, at the break.
Rutty led all first-half scorers with eight points to go along with a team-high five rebounds. Thompson led Sacred Heart with six points.
The Bobcats led by as many as eight points in the second half before Thompson's jumper at the 6:39 mark gave Sacred Heart its first lead of the game, 43-42, with 6:39 left in regulation. Brown immediately answered with a jumper for Quinnipiac, and the lead quickly extended to five. But Montes scored five straight points for Sacred Heart, tying the game at 48-48, and setting up Johnson's heroics.
For the game, Sacred Heart outshot the Bobcats, 40.0 percent (18-45) to 33.9 percent (21-62) from the floor and 55.6 percent (5-9) to 35.3 percent (6-17) from the free-throw line. Both teams shot 35.0 percent (7-20) from long range. Sacred Heart edged the Bobcats, 39-38, on the boards, while the Bobcats made 10 steals on Sacred Heart's 24 turnovers. The Bobcats had 15 assists to just 10 turnovers.
The Bobcats return to action Thursday, when they travel to Smithfield, R.I., to take on Bryant. Opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Chace Athletic Center.