Moon Township, Pa. -- Senior guard Jeremy Chappell (Cincinnati/ Northwest), the 2009 Northeast Conference Player of the Year, tied a season high with 25 points in helping lead the No. 1 seeded Robert Morris University men's basketball team to a 75-48 win over No. 5 seed Quinnipiac Sunday afternoon in a 2009 NEC Tournament semifinal game at the Sewall Center.
Thanks to the win the Colonials improve to 23-10 overall on the 2008-09 campaign and will host the 2009 NEC Tournament championship game Wednesday, March 11, at 8:30 p.m. against eNo. 2 seed Mount St.
Mary's live on ESPN2.
Chappell scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, including six straight to end the stanza that bolstered RMU to a 40-27 lead at intermission.
"He was immense," Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said of Chappell. "He played like you'd expect a senior player of the year would play. He was great on offense. He was great on defense. He was terrific."
RMU jumped out to an early 9-4 advantage before the Bobcats (15-16) used a 7-2 spurt to knot the score, 11-11, with 12:34 left before halftime.
Sophomore forward Justin Rutty (Newburgh, N.Y./Newburgh Free Academy) started the run with a layup off an offensive rebound, while freshman guard James Johnson (Queens, N.Y./Bishop Loughlin) buried a jumper and
junior guard Jeremy Baker (Washington, D.C./Garden City C.C.) drained a three-pointer.
The Colonials jumped back in front, 14-11, on a three-pointer from senior guard Bateko Francisco (Paris, France/Fort Scott J.C.), and Robert Morris eventually increased its lead to 27-19 after a pair of Francisco free throws. Senior guard Bryan Geffen (Queens, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) pulled Quinnipiac within 27-21 thanks to a jumper in the
paint with 4:42 to go before intermission, but Robert Morris closed the half on a 13-6 run to take a 40-27 halftime advantage.
The Bobcats were unable to trim to their deficit to single digits in the second half, as a 22-4 Colonial run over eight minutes gave RMU its biggest advantage of the game, 71-32, with 5:08 to play. Chappell scored eight points during the surge, while junior forward Rob Robinson (Waldorf, Md./Globe Institute of Technology) added five.
“We were focused defensively off the ball tonight, and I thought that was the difference," RMU head coach Mike Rice said. "When you defend the way we did, that's what makes you successful. We played for 40 minutes, maybe not perfect offensively or perfect defensively, but we followed the formula that has made us successful. Tonight, we had toughness and substance."
Chappell finished 10-for-17 shooting from the field, including a 5-for-12 performance from beyond the arc, and also added eight rebounds and three assists. Francisco and junior guard Jimmy Langhurst (Willard, Ohio/Willard) each added 12 points for the Colonials, who shot 58.8 percent (30-for-51) from the field.
Quinnipiac was led by James Feldeine, who finished with 16 points, while Rutty recorded his 13th double-double of the year with 10 points and 14 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass. The Bobcats shot just 33.3 percent (16-for-48) for the game, including 20.8 percent (5-for-24) after halftime.