FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Junior guard Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) poured in a team-high 18 points on Thursday night, but the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team was outlasted by Sacred Heart, 78-75, at the William H. Pitt Center in Fairfield, Conn. With the loss, the Bobcats fall back to the .500 mark at 9-9 overall and descend to 2-5 in the NEC. The Pioneers improved to 9-11, 3-5 in league play.
Dave Johnson finished 5-of-11 from the floor, 2-of-4 from behind the arc and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line in his third straight game with double-figures. James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) added 16 points and crossed the 1,500 mark for his career at Quinnipiac. Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) totaled 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting and hauled in eight rebounds. Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.), who has been sidelined with an injury for the last month, returned to the lineup and contributed off-the-bench with nine points and eight boards.
The first half featured a fast-paced, back and forth affair that resulted in a two-point differential at the break. Quinnipiac boasted the largest lead of the half, 18-10, after a trey from James Johnson at the 14:12 mark. The advantage was quickly erased though as the hosting Pioneers put together an 11-0 run over the next three minutes. However, the Bobcats regained their composure and were able to walk off the court with a 33-31 lead at the intermission.
James Johnson and Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) led the visitors with eight points at halftime. SHU's Louis Montes led all scorers with 15 points.
Quinnipiac quickly opened a five-point lead early on in the second stanza. Azotam accounted for six points during the stretch, granting QU its largest second-half advantage, 45-40. However, Shane Gibson was the answer for the Pioneers. Gibson tossed in 18 of his 23 points in the second half and helped SHU regain the lead around the midway mark.
Trailing by five, Jamee Jackson gave the Bobcats life again, as the junior forward sparked a 7-0 surge with a three-point play underneath. Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) added a layup and Dave Johnson capped off the run with a jumper from the wing for a 64-62 QU advantage.
Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived as Sacred Heart strung together several solid stints on both ends of the court. Gibson fouled out with 1:40 showing on the clock, but Phil Gaetano and Montes stepped up in his absence. The duo combined for nine of the team's final 11 points, which included six from the charity stripe.
QU's last chance came with 33 seconds left in regulation, where the Bobcats faced a three-point deficit with possession of the basketball. Unluckily James Johnson's three-point attempt came up short, leaving Quinnipiac with their sixth loss of five points or less on the season.
Second-half field goal defense proved to be the difference in the game. SHU converted on 58.3 percent of its shots attempts in the frame, which also included 5-of-6 from long distance. Quinnipiac controlled the boards throughout the contest, 45-34, and an edge in second chance points, 14-9. 25 of their rebounds came on the offensive end for the Bobcats.
QU returns to action on Saturday, January 21, 2012 when the team resumes Northeast Conference play at Bryant University. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. in Smithfield, R.I. All information pertaining to the men's basketball program, please visit www.quinnipiacbobcats.com.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu