Quinnipiac sweeps season series against Robert Morris, look to NEC playoffs

Bryan Lipiner

James Johnson knew the magnitude of this matchup. The final game of the regular season, possibly the final home game of his career, and on top of it all, against Quinnipiac’s top rival, Robert Morris.

“It’s tough to beat a team three times, but we never beat Robert Morris twice in a season before,” Johnson said. “We just gotta beat them when it counts.”

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Quinnipiac (17-12, 10-8 Northeast Conference) defeated Robert Morris Saturday afternoon, 73-69. Johnson had a career game, shooting 12 of 24 from the floor, including 4 for 8 from behind the arc, good for 28 points. Ousmane Drame also chimed in on the action, picking up a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds while hitting 50 percent of his field goals.

“We’re really happy at the toughness that we showed and the quality of the game,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said. “This team [Robert Morris], traditionally has been the toughest physical and mental team that you have to play. I’m just really excited for the NEC tournament.”

Johnson hit two key 3-pointers in the final three minutes of play, both of which caused the crowd to explode at the TD Bank Sports Center. In the final two seconds of regulation, Johnson hit two free throws to seal the victory.

“My jump shot felt good today, I just wanted to create some space, get a good shot, and luckily they went in,” Johnson said. “I felt pretty good out there.”

Robert Morris (22-9, 13-5 NEC) started the first half off with a 4-0 lead, however that quickly diminished following a Johnson 3-pointer and free throw. Later in the half, the Bobcats went on a 10-2 run to go up 18-10 with 10:40 remaining in the half.

The Colonials were able to keep the pressure on Quinnipiac, however. With 3:04 remaining in the first half, and the Bobcats up by 10, Robert Morris rattled off an 11-1 scoring run to tie the game at 38 going into the break.

In the second half, Robert Morris never trailed by more than six, thanks to Velton Jones’ 15 second-half points. The Colonials also took two leads in the final 4:51, both of which were one-point leads. Yet, Quinnipiac was able to hold at least a two-point lead during the final minutes, and walked away with a 73-69 win.

Garvey Young played a significant role off the bench in the second half. Young had eight points in the half, hitting 3-of-5 shots from the field and two shots from the line. Young also created plenty of second chance opportunities by grabbing four offensive rebounds in the second half alone.

“He’s been great. The thing I like most about him is his versatility. He can guard point guards all the way up to power forwards,” Moore said. “He’s a valuable asset, and I think he’s the best sixth man probably in the league.”

The Bobcats now look to the NEC playoffs as the fifth seed, and will travel to St. Francis (N.Y.) on Thursday for the NEC tournament Quarterfinals.

Quinnipiac was 0-2 against the Terriers this season, losing in New York 73-72, before being beat at home in February 64-56.