The Robert Morris University men’s basketball team was unable to bounce back from its 15-point loss to Central Connecticut State and dropped its second consecutive game, falling to Quinnipiac 78-76 Thursday night at the Charles L. Sewall Center.
James Johnson, a 6-foot senior guard, led Quinnipiac with 22 points and shot 55% from the field en route to the Bobcats ninth overall win and second NEC victory. Dave Johnson also chipped in 18 tallies and Ike Azotam added six rebounds for a QU team that snapped a two game losing streak with the two point victory against RMU.
Despite a 22-point effort from guard Velton Jones, Robert Morris was unable to fend off the clawing Bobcats and drops its sixth game of the 2011-2012 campaign. Jones, who started the game shooting 0 for 8 from floor, exploded in the second half, scoring all of his points in the final 20 minutes of play.
“I just wanted to try and stay aggressive and help our team get the win,” Jones said of his shooting performance in the second half. “I was taking the open shots that they were giving me.”
QU led for much of the first half but Jones, a redshirt junior, knocked down a fade away three pointer that gave Robert Morris its first lead of the night nine minutes into the contest. Quinnipiac eventually regained the lead but the Colonials closed out the half on a 10-2 run and led by eight going into the locker room.
Quinnipiac adjusted its offensive strategy at halftime and was able to exploit the Robert Morris defense by scoring 51 points in the game’s final 20 minutes of play.
According to Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore, the Bobcats scout and prepare for the Colonials more than any other team in the league. “We do more offensive preparation in our half court sets for them [RMU] than we do for anyone else,” stated QU’s fifth year skipper. “We tweak a lot of things because they are such a unique defensive team.”
Although RMU led at the half, they were unable to run away with the game and allowed QU to fight its way back into the contest. Quinnipiac matched RMU shot for shot and the Bobcats took the lead for good with eight minutes remaining. Robert Morris would come within two but QU iced the game with clutch foul shooting.
“Clearly you are not going to win a lot of games when your opponent shoots 58.5% from the field and 70% from three. It’s disappointing that we didn’t have a whole lot of excitement to play the game,” explained second year head coach, Andy Toole. “We didn’t have much urgency in the second half and once Quinnipiac got it rolling, they took advantage of it and we lost by two.”
Robert Morris and Quinnipiac have played a few heated contests in recent years, including the 2009 NEC title game, and Coach Moore hopes that the two teams are able to continue the friendly rivalry on the hardwood. “We have a real high respect level for them because they are one of only a few teams who have NEC rings since we’ve been here,” added Moore. “If this does develop into a rivalry it means we are holding up our end too.”
The Colonials close out a two game home stand on Saturday against the Sacred Heart Pioneers at 7:00 p.m. and then hit the road for contests against Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth.