Rutty's Double-Double Propels Men's Basketball Past Monmouth, 64-59

HAMDEN, Conn. - Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) compiled a double-double of 17 points and a season-high 17 rebounds as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated Monmouth, 64-59, Thursday night at the TD Bank Sports Center. With the win, the Bobcats (20-8, 12-5 NEC) clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming NEC Tournament, and at least two home games, should they advance past the quarterfinals. The Hawks (9-20, 5-12 NEC) were eliminated from NEC Tournament contention with the loss.

The 17 rebounds push Rutty (989 career rebounds) into third place all-time among Northeast Conference rebounders, passing Central Connecticut's Obie Nwadike (980). He now trails only Long Island's Carey Scurry (1,013) and Central Connecticut's Ron Robinson (1,022). Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) contributed 13 points and five rebounds, while James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) had 11 points and five assists for Quinnipiac, which outrebounded Monmouth, 48-23. Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) had a game-high seven assists.

James Hett led four Hawks in double figures with 15 points. Ed Waite had 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Mike Myers Keitt (11) and Marcus Ware (10) also scored in double figures.

After Monmouth scored eight of the game's first 10 points, Quinnipiac went on a 16-2 run to take an 18-10 lead on consecutive Azotam buckets in the paint, the last coming at the 12:39 mark. The lead jumped to 16 when Quinnipiac went on a 12-2 run, capped by three Rutty lay-ups, the last at the 3:14 mark of the first. But Monmouth scored the last seven points of the first half to cut the deficit to nine, 34-25, at the break.

Rutty led the way for the Bobcats with nine points and six rebounds in the first half. Lance Brown (Teaneck, N.J.) and Azotam added seven points apiece. Waite led Monmouth with seven points and five rebounds at the break. Quinnipiac shot 56.0 percent (14-25) from the floor, while holding the Hawks to 38.5 percent (10-26).

Monmouth outscored Quinnipiac, 15-7, in the first nine minutes of the second half to close the deficit to one, 41-40. James Johnson immediately responded with three-pointer and the lead swelled to five. But back-to-back three-pointers from Hett and Waite gave Monmouth its first lead since just inside the 16-minute mark of the first half, 46-45, with 8:43 left in regulation.

After the teams exchanged two-point buckets, Rutty's lay-up at the 7:08 mark put the Bobcats on top for good, 49-48. Dominique Langston (Bridgeport, Conn.) followed with a three-pointer, and after Ware made one-of-two free throws, Rutty completed a three-point play to make it 55-49 Quinnipiac with 4:29 to go. Monmouth wouldn't close to within one possession again.

For the game, Quinnipiac outshot Monmouth, 41.1 percent (23-56) to 40.0 percent (20-50) from the floor and outrebounded the Hawks, 48-23. Monmouth took a 50.0 percent (8-16) to 35.3 percent (6-17) edge from long range and a 68.8 percent (11-16) to 60.0 percent (12-20) advantage from the free-throw line. Quinnipiac outscored Monmouth, 32-16, in the paint and edged the Hawks, 23-11, in production off the bench.

The Bobcats conclude the regular season Saturday with a 4 p.m. tilt against Fairleigh Dickinson. Prior to opening tip from the TD Bank Sports Center, Quinnipiac will honor its seven-member senior class as part of Senior Day. The game will be broadcast live on MSG as part of the Northeast Conference's television package.