NEW BRITAIN, Conn. James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) tied his career high with 17 points, but the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team was defeated by Central Connecticut, 59-55, Saturday afternoon at Detrick Gym. With the loss, the Bobcats fall to 8-11 (4-5 NEC), while the Blue Devils improve to 9-10 (5-4 NEC).
Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) compiled his second consecutive double-double, his sixth of the season, with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Bryan Geffen (Queens, N.Y.) and James Feldeine (New York, N.Y.) contributed 12 points apiece for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac, playing with just six scholarship players available due to a rash of injuries, utilized a two-three zone defensive scheme and milked the clock on most possessions.
Marcus Palmer led CCSU with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Ken Horton and Robby Ptacek added 10 points apiece.
"I'm really proud of our effort today," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Tom Moore. "They really bought into and believed in the game plan. They sacrificed individual accomplishments to try to win. It was an unselfish and gutty effort by a nucleus of four."
The Bobcats' zone defensive scheme held the Blue Devils to 20 first-half points on 29.3 percent (8-27) shooting. The Blue Devils managed a 10-point lead, 18-8, on Thompson's layup with 6:13 remaining, but the Bobcats responded with an 8-0 run to pull to within two with 3:07 remaining in the half. Horton's bucket with 35 seconds left gave CCSU a 20-16 advantage at the half.
Quinnipiac closed to within one point on four occasions early in the second half, before tying the game on Steve Robinson's (New York, N.Y.) bucket while being fouled with 12:17 remaining. The Bobcats tied the game once more, but couldn't wrestle the lead away from the Blue Devils. Johnson's three-pointer with 6:18 closed the deficit to one at 40-39, but CCSU rattled off a 10-0 run that would prove too much to overcome.
Down by 11 points with 2:31 remaining in regulation, the Bobcats cut the deficit to three with seven seconds remaining. But the Blue Devils were too good from the free throw line down the stretch, scoring their final 12 points on consecutive attempts from the charity stripe.
The Blue Devils edged the Bobcats, 39.6 percent (19-48) to 39.3 percent (22-56) from the floor. Both teams shot 33.3 percent from long range, with the Bobcats connecting on 6-of-18, while the Blue Devils made 5-of-15. CCSU connected at a Quinnipiac opponent-best 88.9 percent (16-18) from the free throw line, besting the Bobcats' 50.0 percent (5-10). Quinnipiac outrebounded CCSU, 35-30.
The Bobcats return to action Thursday, when they play host to preseason NEC favorite Mount St. Mary's. Opening tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the TD Banknorth Sports Center.