Men’s basketball avenges collapse

Tim O'Donnell

The last time Quinnipiac squared off with Bryant, it resulted in one of the biggest collapses in recent memory. A 23-point lead for the Bobcats was squandered away as the Bulldogs came back to win 69-61 in Hamden.

And with that memory still fresh in their minds, the Bobcats battled the Bulldogs in Smithfield, R.I. And this time the double-digit lead in the second half never vanished as the Bobcats cruised to an 80-60 victory.

“I’m glad we corrected the things we did wrong at our place,” Assistant Coach Sean Doherty told WQUN. “We came out in the second half and had the same intensity on the defensive end.”

The biggest difference this time around for the Bobcats (18-8, 10-5 NEC) was the presence of Justin Rutty. When the teams met in Hamden, Rutty was still sidelined with an injury. And he made his presence felt this time, recording his first double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) since returning.

“He’s back. We don’t want to take him out of the game,” Doherty said. “We want to keep him out there because he draws so much attention. Our guards are getting easy shots out there because everyone is sucked in on Justin. Its’ like a shooting clinic outside.”

James Johnson and Deontay Twyman got the open shots. Johnson continued his excellent season with 24 points, including seven 3-pointers, while Twyman added 13.

The Bobcats led from the start, holding a lead by as many as 12 before the Bulldogs (9-18, 7-8) tied it with 7:05 remaining the first half. But 15 straight points gave the Bobcats the lead for good. The Bulldogs would get no closer than six the rest of the game.

The win keeps the Bobcats in third place in the Northeast Conference, just one game behind Central Connecticut State University. The Bobcats and Blue Devils play on Saturday in New Britain. The Bobcats beat the Blue Devils 73-68 in Hamden in January. And Doherty isn’t expecting Saturday to be easy.

“I’m looking for war,” Doherty said. “Howie Dickenmen is a great coach. He’s going have his guys ready to play.”

The winner of the game will have possession of second place in the NEC. Tipoff is set for 3:30.