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Philadelphia, PA -- Senior James Johnson (Queens, N.Y.) finished with a team-high 16 points on Wednesday night, but the Quinnipiac University men's basketball team was eliminated from the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) with a 74-63 loss to Pennsylvania at The Palestra. The Bobcats conclude the 2011-12 campaign with an overall record of 18-13 and their third consecutive national postseason tournament appearance.
In his final game with the program, Johnson battled through a sore shoulder and as he has done many times led the Bobcats' attack. He added four assists and one block in 37 minutes on the hardwood. Joining Johnson with stellar performances were freshmen Zaid Hearst (Bethesda, Md.) and Evan Conti (Bayside, N.Y.). Hearst recorded his first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Conti posted a career-high 14 points and four rebounds in his first career start.
Playing without point guard Dave Johnson (Jackson, N.J.) and Garvey Young (Washington, D.C.) due to injuries, the Bobcats went into the game with a short bench. Quinnipiac fell behind by as many as eight points in the first half, but hung around with a strong finish. The Bobcats outscored the Quakers, 7-3, in the closing minutes, taking a mere four-point deficit into the locker room at halftime.
After the intermission, the Quakers boasted a 22-6 run through the midway mark of the second frame. Rob Belcore capped off the surge with a three-point field goal, granting Penn their largest lead of the game at 19. What seemed to be an insurmountable mountain to climb, the Bobcats pressured frantically to stay within striking distance.
Quinnipiac put together a solid stretch of basketball via a full-court press, falling back into an effective two-three zone. The Bobcats used an 18-9 run to cut their deficit down to single digits, 69-60. Unfortunately, with only 49 seconds showing on the clock, Penn made its free-throws disallowing QU to inch any closer.
Long-range shooting proved to be the difference in the outcome, as the Quakers nailed eight more from behind the arc than the Bobcats. Penn shot 48.1 percent (13-27) from downtown compared to 29.4 percent (5-13) from the visitors. Each team made 26 field goals, while Penn tacked on three more free-throws.
Ike Azotam (Boston, Mass.) finished his sophomore campaign with 12 points and eight rebounds. He was two boards shy of his 15th double-double, a statistic that ranks him atop the Northeast Conference. Jamee Jackson (Newark, N.J.), who is still bothered by a foot injury, chimed in with three points, while three others added two.
Penn was led by Miles Cartwright and Zack Rosen. Cartwright scored a game-high 23 points, while Rosen finished with 16 points and nine assists. The Quakers will take on Butler in the quarterfinals of the CBI Tournament on Monday.