HAMDEN, Conn. - James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) led a furious second-half comeback with 10 points, five steals and three assists in the latter stanza, but it wasn't enough to overcome an 18-point deficit as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team was defeated by Vermont, 79-75, Saturday afternoon at the TD Bank Sports Center. With the loss, the Bobcats fall to 2-1, while the Catamounts improve to 2-1.
Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) finished with a team-high 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Johnson had 18 points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists. Dominique Langston (Bridgeport, Conn.) chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Deontay Twyman (Olney, Md.) had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Evan Fjeld scored a game-high 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting to lead a 54.9 percent effort for the Catamounts from the field on the day. Joey Accaoui added 16 points, while Matt Glass had 11 points and five rebounds. Brian Voelkel had six points, nine rebounds and five assists for Vermont.
The Bobcats opened the game with the first five points on a pair of Twyman free throws and a Johnson three. The Catamounts responded with six straight to take their first lead on Sandro Carissimo's fast-break lay-up at the 15:13 mark. After four lead changes, the Catamounts took the advantage for good on Fjeld's lay-up at the 5:02 mark of the first half. The Catamounts extended to a six-point lead on Brendan Bald's three-pointer with eight seconds left in the half.
Johnson and Langston led the way for the Bobcats in the first half with eight points each, while Accaoui had six points for Vermont. Simeon Marsalis and Bald had five points each for Vermont, which shot 54.2 percent (13-24) for the half.
The Catamounts gradually increased the advantage to 18 points on Fjeld's three-point play midway through the second half. But the Bobcats utilized a full-court press to get back into the game. A pair of Rutty free throws followed by a Twyman three and a Rutty put-back sparked a 9-0 Bobcats run. Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) capped the run with a three-pointer at the 7:45 mark. Two James Johnson steals leading to fast-break lay-ups and a pair of Langston three-pointers drew the Bobcats to within two points at 77-75 with 22 seconds left. But after Accaoui knocked down two free throws with 12 seconds left, the Bobcats ran out of time.
For the game, the Bobcats outrebounded the Catamounts, 45-37. Vermont outshot the Bobcats, 54.9 percent (28-51) to 37.7 percent (29-77) from the floor, 45.5 percent (5-11) to 33.3 percent (6-18) from long range and 58.1 percent (18-31) to 52.4 percent (11-21) from the free-throw line. The Bobcats had 17 assists to just 12 turnovers, while completing the steal on eight of 20 Vermont turnovers. Led by Fjeld's four blocks, the Catamounts blocked six Quinnipiac shots.
The Bobcats return to action Tuesday, when they travel to Hanover, N.H., to take on Dartmouth. Opening tip from Leede Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.