Without Justin Rutty, it appeared like the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team was heading for its second straight lost. Instead they came back from a 14-point deficit to defeat Monmouth, 72-70, at the Multipurpose Athletic Center in West Long Branch, N.J.
Jamee Jackson scored a team-high 20 points and grabbed five rebounds while James Johnson scored 13 points and added five rebounds and four assists in the Bobcat victory.
The Bobcats (10-3, 2-1) won the game making their free throws down the wire, opposed to Monmouth (5-10, 1-2) who shot two-for-nine from the charity stripe in the second half, with five of the misses coming in the final minutes of the game. Quinnipiac trailed 70-68 with 1:54 remaining, but James Johnson tied the game at 70 by hitting two free throws. After a missed shot from Monmouth, Jackson was fouled and gave QU its first lead since the first half by making one of two free throws.
Monmouth’s James Hett went to the line with 3.9 seconds left, but missed both his free throws. The the two misses led to the Bobcats adding another point as Dominique Langston hit a free throw and extended the lead to 72-70. The Hawks attempted one final inbounds play but Lance Brown stole the pass and sealed the win for the Bobcats.
“I’m really proud of our guys’ heart tonight,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “Getting the news this afternoon that [Rutty] wasn’t going to play made us a sort of young team over the course of a couple hours.”
Rutty, who ranks first in the NEC in rebounding, further injured an already hurt elbow during a pre-game shootaround. Moore said that he is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Fairleigh Dickinson and will get an MRI on Friday.
Despite Rutty’s absence, the Bobcats rebounded efficiently during the game, outrebounding the Hawks 36-26, and had a clutch performance from Jackson, who scored 20 points.
“I couldn’t have asked for a bigger performance from him,” Moore said. “The biggest thing about him tonight is he was in foul trouble most of the game, but every time we put him back out there he was the same player mentally.”
Although the rebounding remained strong, the Bobcats did not shoot well. They shot 40 percent from the field and 24 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Meanwhile, Monmouth shot nearly 60 percent from the field and 53 percent from three-point range.
The poor shooting from QU and excellent shooting from Monmouth led to an 18-0 run from the Hawks in the first half which saw them take a 44-35 lead into halftime.
Hawks forward Mike Myers Keitt led the charge for Monmouth, scoring 13 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. Ed Waite also had a big night, scoring 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
Down 52-38 with just over 15 minutes left to play, the Bobcats began to come back. Jackson and Ike Azotam combined to go on a quick 7-0 run to pull them back into the game. Trailing 62-55, the Bobcats went on a 6-0 run to pull within one. From that point, both teams went back-and-forth until the Bobcats hit their free throws to win the game.
The Bobcats return to action Saturday when they face Fairleigh Dickinson at 4 p.m. at the Stratis Arena in Hackensack, NJ.