BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. – Senior guard James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) posted a game-high 28 points on Thursday evening, but the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team surrendered a tough loss to Northeast Conference foe St. Francis (N.Y.), 73-72, at the Pope Physical Education Center. Stefan Perunicic's free-throw capped off a three-point play to put the Terriers in front by one with 5.1 seconds left. The Bobcats couldn't convert in the waning seconds, granting SFC a big win on its home court.
With the loss, the Bobcats fall to 8-6 overall and 1-2 in the league. St. Francis improves to 5-9, 2-1 in the NEC, and will travel to Sacred Heart on Saturday.
Johnson finished with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals to go along with his season-high point total. Three other Bobcats compiled double-digits; Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) with 12, Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) with 11 and Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) with 10. Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) added five and Nate Gause (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) and Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) each tallied three.
The game was very competitive and never saw a lead of more than eight points; an advantage the Bobcats controlled with 3:12 left in the contest. The Terriers answered with an 8-2 run, which cut their deficit to just two points with 56 seconds showing on the clock.
QU came up empty on its ensuing possession, leaving SFC with the ball and 30 seconds to go. After a series of timeouts, Perunicic collected a pass on a backdoor cut, finished the layup and was fouled with 5.1 seconds remaining in the game. Perunicic sank his attempt from the stripe to put the Terriers up, 73-72. Johnson's 30-footer came up short as the Bobcats' three-game winning streak came to a close.
For the game, Quinnipiac outshot St. Francis, 44.8 percent to 41.1 percent, from the floor and outscored the Terriers off-the-bench, 16-8. The Terriers finished 72 percent (15-25) of their free-throws to just 60 percent (21-29) of the Bobcats, and controlled the boards, 39-38. It's just the second game of the season that QU has been outrebounded.
Led by James Johnson, the Bobcats presented an efficient offense for much of the first half. Johnson poured in 17 points as QU boasted an eight point lead, 30-22, with seven minutes remaining in the stanza. However, the hosting Terriers put together a 12-2 run to close out the opening frame, leaving a 34-34 score at the break.
The Bobcats held the Terriers to just 29.4 percent shooting in the first half but surrendered 12 points from the charity stripe. Azotam also chimed in with double-figures with 10 points to go along with four rebounds.
QU returns to action on Saturday, January 7 with its first home game of the New Year. The Bobcats welcome Long Island University, the 2011-12 Preseason Coaches' Poll favorite, to the TD Bank Sports Center for a 2 p.m. tip-off.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu