SMITHFIELD, R.I. - James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) scored a game-high 24 points and nailed seven three-pointers as the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team defeated Bryant, 80-60, Thursday night at the Chace Athletic Center. Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y.) added his Quinnipiac Division I record 38th double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds to push the Bobcats to 18-8 (10-5 NEC). The loss drops the Bulldogs to 9-18 (7-8 NEC).
The seven three-pointers tie Johnson's season high, also established Dec. 22 at Niagara and Jan. 27 against Robert Morris. Deontay Twyman (Olney, Md.) added 13 points, including 11 in the first half, for the Bobcats. The Bobcats shot 52.5 percent (31-59) from the floor, their second-best shooting performance of the year. Led by Johnson's seven three-pointers, Quinnipiac shot 47.6 percent (10-21) from long range. The Bobcats also made 8-of-10 free-throw attempts. The Bobcats outrebounded Bryant, 38-26.
Alex Francis led Bryant with 17 points and nine rebounds. Cecil Gresham (11), Frankie Dobbs (10) and Vlad Kontratyev (10) also scored in double figures for the Bulldogs.
The Bobcats never trailed in the game. The first half featured a series of runs and ended with Quinnipiac holding a 42-34 lead. The Bobcats scored the game's first 12 points, including three buckets inside the arc from Twyman. Later, an 8-0 Bryant run cut the deficit to three points, 16-13, with 13:11 left in the first half. Bryant continued to whittle away, tying the game at 23-23 on a Dobbs free throw at the 7:05 mark.
But Quinnipiac answered with a 15-0 run, including six points from Johnson on a three-pointer at the 6:36 mark to put the Bobcats on top for good, and a conventional three-point play at the 5:48 mark. Rutty capped the run with a pair of buckets, the last at the 4:14 mark.
Bryant scored the next five points, and eventually cut to within eight points at the half. Twyman led all scorers with 11 points at the break, while Rutty and Johnson added nine apiece. Gresham led Bryant with eight points. The Bobcats shot 60.7 percent (17-28) in the first half, but turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 10 times in the initial stanza.
The Bulldogs closed to within six points on two occasions early in the second half, but hot three-point shooting helped the Bobcats extend the lead to as many as 25 points with 5:24 remaining in regulation. The Bobcats made five straight three-point field goals against the Bulldogs' zone defense, including four from James Johnson and one from Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.), to pull away. Johnson's seventh trifecta of the game gave QU its largest lead.
The Bobcats return to action Saturday, when they travel to intrastate NEC rival Central Connecticut. Opening tip is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Detrick Gym.