January 31, 2009

Men's Basketball Defeats LIU, 69-63

HAMDEN, Conn. – Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) compiled his fourth consecutive double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds to go along with a career-high five assists as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated Long Island, 69-63, Saturday afternoon at the TD Banknorth Sports Center. Bryan Geffen (Queens, N.Y.) also added 16 points as the Bobcats improved to 9-12 (5-6 NEC), while the Blackbirds, who entered the game in third place in the NEC, fell to 10-11 (6-4 NEC).

Edward Zajac (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) and James Feldeine (New York, N.Y.) also contributed 11 points apiece for the Bobcats. Julian Boyd led all scorers with 18 points for LIU, while Aurimas Adomaitis added 15 points in 16 minutes while saddled with foul trouble.

Rutty, who came into the game at 39.5 percent from the free-throw line, connected on 8-of-11 attempts (72.7 percent) to help the Bobcats ice the game. Of Rutty's 14 rebounds, six came on the offensive glass, leaving him just one shy of becoming just the second Quinnipiac player to grab 100 offensive rebounds in a single season (Jeremy Bishop, 117 in 2001-02).

The Bobcats overcame an immediate 10-point deficit as the Blackbirds scored the game's first 10 points, covering the opening five minutes of the first half. The Bobcats scored 10 of the next 13 points, including eight from Geffen, to close the deficit to three by the 12:37 mark. The LIU lead fluctuated between two and eight points until Zajac connected on a pair of free throws to tie the game at 26-26 with 2:49 left in the first.

Quinnipiac took its first lead of the game on DeAndre' Bynum's (Memphis, Tenn.) jumper with a toe on the three-point line with 2:02 remaining in the period. After a pair of Adomaitis free throws tied the game at 28-28, Rutty connected on a put-back and James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) made one of two free throws to give the Bobcats a 31-28 lead at the break.

Geffen led all first-half scorers with 11 points, while Adomaitis paced LIU with seven.

LIU opened the second half on a 6-0 run to take a 34-31 advantage just over a minute into the second half. Three-pointers from Johnson and Geffen put the Bobcats back on top, 37-36, less than four minutes into the half and the Bobcats built a five-point advantage, 43-38, on Feldeine's jumper in the paint with 13:56 remaining in the stanza.

The Blackbirds then whittled away at the Quinnipiac lead and regained the advantage, 46-45, on Jaytornah Wisseh's three-pointer with 9:28 remaining. The lead changed hands twice more before Rutty stepped to the line with 3:45 left in regulation and the Bobcats down by two. He made one-of-two, but Bynum skied for the offensive rebound of the missed second attempt, keeping the possession alive. Rutty converted the second-chance into two points with a layup to give the Bobcats a 55-54 lead with 3:31 remaining in regulation.

After Boyd connected on one-of-two free-throw attempts for LIU, Feldeine gave the Bobcats the lead for good with a jumper at the 2:56 mark, part of an 8-0 Quinnipiac run. LIU drew to within three points on Wisseh's jumper with 18 seconds left, but Johnson and Rutty made four consecutive free throws in the final seconds to clinch the Quinnipiac victory.

For the game, the Bobcats outshot the Blackbirds, 36.8 percent (21-57) to 35.2 percent (19-54) from the floor, and 23.1 percent (3-13) to 16.7 percent (2-12) from three-point range. LIU edged the Bobcats, 74.2 percent (23-31) to 72.7 percent (24-33) from the free-throw line. Quinnipiac, the NEC's leading rebounding team, grabbed 42 boards to 35 caroms for LIU, the league's second-best team on the glass.

The Bobcats return to action Thursday, when they face intrastate NEC foe Sacred Heart. The game, to be televised live on MSG, FCS and the Connecticut Sports Network (CTSN), is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Fairfield, Conn.