Men's Basketball Fends Off CCSU, 68-67

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) scored a career-high 17 points as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team earned a 68-67 victory against intrastate NEC rival Central Connecticut, Saturday afternoon at Detrick Gym. With the win, the Bobcats move to 19-8 (11-5 NEC), and gained control of the pivotal head-to-head tie-breaker against the Blue Devils (18-9, 11-5 NEC), having swept the season series.

James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) added 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including three three-pointers. Deontay Twyman (Olney, Md.) and Lance Brown (Teaneck, N.J.) also contributed nine points apiece for Quinnipiac, which handed Central Connecticut only its second loss at home in 13 chances this season.

Ken Horton led CCSU with a career-high 35 points on 10-for-19 shooting from the floor and 13-for-14 from the free-throw line. Robby Ptacek added 11 points, including 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. CCSU benefitted from 42 chances at the free-throw line, making 31 (73.8 percent). By contrast, Quinnipiac went to the line for just 17 attempts, making nine (52.9 percent). In total, the officials had a busy day, whistling 55 fouls.

After neither team could create more than four points of separation in the first half, Quinnipiac turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 10-point cushion, 42-32, by the 12:20 mark of the second. Following Ptacek's free throws to tie the game at the 18:19 mark, Quinnipiac outscored CCSU, 16-6, including seven points from Dave Johnson, in the following six minutes.

CCSU countered with a 16-5 spurt covering the next four-plus minutes, capped by a pair of Ptacek free throws at the 7:51 mark to give the Blue Devils a 58-57 lead. The lead exchanged hands three more times the rest of the way, the last coming when Twyman made all three free throws after being fouled beyond the arc to make it 62-60 Quinnipiac with 6:58 remaining.

Horton tied the game at 62-62 a minute and a half later with two free throws at the 5:14 mark. But James Johnson's jumper in the paint gave Quinnipiac the lead for good at the 4:02 mark. Johnson then connected on a lefty scoop shot while being fouled at the 2:48 mark, but could not complete the three-point play, leaving the QU lead at four, 66-62.

After the teams exchanged two-point buckets, De'Angelo Speech made one-of-two free throws at the 1:54 mark and Horton connected on a pair with just more than a minute remaining. On the ensuing QU possession, Dave Johnson's three-point attempt wouldn't fall, but after Joe Efese grabbed the defensive rebound for CCSU, his pass was intercepted by the Bobcats' Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.).

Dave Johnson was fouled, but missed both free throws. CCSU called timeout with 14 seconds left, and after James Johnson applied stifling defense on CCSU's Shemik Thompson, the Blue Devils' point guard was forced to call the CCSU's final timeout with eight seconds left in regulation. James Johnson's defense again denied Thompson the lane, before the CCSU senior found Horton deep beyond the left wing three-point arc. His attempt drew iron as time expired.

For the game, the Bobcats outshot CCSU, 47.4 percent (27-57) to 35.4 percent (17-48) from the floor and 35.7 percent (5-14) to 28.6 percent (2-7) from long range. CCSU took a 73.8 percent (31-42) to 52.9 percent (9-17) edge at the free-throw line, and outrebounded QU, 37-33.

Little flow could be established either way in the first half, as the teams were called for a combined 29 fouls, resulting in 32 free throws being attempted. Central Connecticut scored nearly half its points from the free-throw line, connecting on 15-of-24, while Quinnipiac made 6-of-8. All six Quinnipiac made free throws were credited to Dave Johnson. Eight different Quinnipiac players finished the half with two fouls, while Robby Ptacek finished with three fouls for CCSU.

Horton led all first-half scorers with 16 points, while Brown led Quinnipiac with nine points. Dave Johnson added eight points for QU. The first half featured five lead changes and five ties, and ended with CCSU holding a 32-31 edge.

The Bobcats return to action Thursday, when they play host to Monmouth. Opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the TD Bank Sports Center.