HAMDEN, Conn. – The Quinnipiac University men's basketball team honored its two senior class members James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) and Kevin Tarca (Skillman, N.J.) in the best way possible on Saturday morning, as the Bobcats topped Robert Morris, 73-69, at the TD Bank Sports Center on Senior Day. In a contest that was featured nationally on ESPNU, Johnson matched a season-high with 28 points to help lock QU into the fifth seed of the upcoming Northeast Conference Tournament.
With the win, the Bobcats improve to 17-12 overall and 10-8 in league competition. St. Francis (N.Y.) fell short to Fairleigh Dickinson, setting up a rematch between Quinnipiac and the Terriers in the NEC Quarterfinals next week in the 4/5 match-up.
James Johnson was absolutely stellar in his final regular-season home game, as the 6-foot guard scored 28 points behind 8-of-16 shooting from the floor. Johnson finished 4-of-8 from behind the arc, 8-of-13 from the charity stripe and dished out four assists in the triumph. Ousmane Drame (Boston, Mass.) collected another double-double with 12 points and 11 boards, while Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) added some key baskets down the stretch en route to 11 points.
Trailing by one with 2:29 seconds showing on the clock, James Johnson demonstrated his senior-leadership with poise and efficiency. In the team's next possession, Johnson drained a deep-three from the wing to put the Bobcats in front 62-60 and then added to the excitement in the next trip down. After defensive stop, Johnson brought the 3,000 plus crowd to its feet by knocking down another three to extend the lead to five points, 65-60.
Velton Jones, who recorded a game-high 29 points, answered with a trifecta down the other end, but free-throws would decide the game for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac closed the game making 6-of-8 from the line, disallowing the Colonials to tie the score. James Johnson's pair with two seconds left sealed the deal, leaving the Bobcats with their eighth win on Lender Court.
The game featured a physical, back-and-forth affair for much of the 40 minutes. After surrendering a 17-15 edge on the glass in the first half, the nation's second best rebounding team turned it around in the latter frame. The Bobcats captured a plus-13 rebounding margin in the second stanza, including 14 on the offensive end. QU accumulated 23 second-chance points, which proved to be a major factor in the end result.
For the game, Quinnipiac outshot Robert Morris, 46.9 percent to 41.4 percent, from the floor, and 41.7 percent to 35.3 percent, from behind the arc. RMU edged the Bobcats in the paint, 32-24, and a 16-10 advantage in points off turnovers.
Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) and Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) were also influential in the outcome. Johnson totaled nine points, four assists and three rebounds, while Azotam poured in six points and grabbed nine boards. Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) added five points and Justin Harris (Paterson, N.J.) had two.
Robert Morris, now 22-9 overall and 13-5 in the league, captured the No. 3 seed with the St. Francis (N.Y.) loss. The Colonials play host to CCSU or Monmouth depending on the outcome of their games this evening.
For all the latest news, scores and highlights pertaining to the men's basketball program, visit www.QuinnipiacBobcats.com.
Contact: Tony Distasio; Ardistasio@quinnipiac.edu