By Kevin Lo
HAMDEN – The Bobcats returned home from a six-game road trip in which they went 3-3 to defeat the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights 73-52 in their home opener on Saturday. Quinnipiac is now 4-3 overall, and 1-0 in the Northeast Conference. With the loss, Fairleigh Dickinson drops to 1-7 and 0-1 in the NEC.
Junior Justin Rutty led all scorers with 23 points, chipped in eight boards and recorded two steals. Junior James Feldeine finished with 22 points and five rebounds.
“First six games I’ve been on, he’s been off, he’s been on and I’ve been off; it was the first time we both connected on most of the shots we took today,” said James Feldeine.
Rutty attributed some of his 23 points to a noticeably improved 15 foot jump shot.
“I been playing all summer, it’s starting to come around,” Rutty explained, to which Feldeine jokingly replied, “’I’m teaching him, he’s under my wing.”
Bobcat fans were quickly introduced to more pleasant surprises including two of their newest recruits, Dave Johnson and Jamee Jackson.
Dave Johnson entered into the game with 16 minutes to go in the first half and made his presence felt immediately, connecting on a three-pointer. Feldeine hit another three-pointer on the ensuing possession, spurring an early Bobcats run.
“Dave Johnson, offensively, was fantastic early,” said coach Tom Moore. “He might have the highest offensive IQ out of anyone we have on the team.” Johnson established career highs in points (10), assists (6) and steals (3), while shooting 4-5 from the floor, 2-2 from three and committing no turnovers.
Feldeine was hot early, hitting all of his three shots from beyond the arc in the first half. The Bobcats were able to take a 14-4 lead seven minutes into the game, and never looked back.
The second half began with more of the same. The Bobcats stretched their 36-26 lead to a 16-point lead, 47-31, with 15 minutes left to play.
Quinnipiac’s lead continued to build, and with just over five minutes to play, the Bobcats had extended their lead to 28 points.
“We played with a little bit better focus in the second half,” said Moore. “I like how we took the lead from 10 and expanded on it. That’s a real dangerous team we played today, to hold them to 32 percent field-goal percentage is a pretty significant achievement.”
FDU surged late in the first half cutting the lead to six, the closest margin in the game, until Feldeine converted a three-point play on a fast break lay-up, stretching the lead back to nine.
FDU’s only lead was by two, a mere 10 seconds into the game.
Tom Moore’s squad is back in action on Tuesday when they hit the road for a non-conference tilt at Rhode Island. Opening tip is set for 7 p.m. The game is set to be televised live on NESN.