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Robert Morris blown out in second half in 83-67 loss to Long Island

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Robert Morris lost a battle for first place in the NEC tonight as Long Island blew open a close game at halftime with a 52-point second half; the Colonials went on to lose 83-67.

Long Island 83, Robert Morris 67
Charles L. Sewall Center, Coraopolis, PA

When Robert Morris and Long Island matched up in December, the Colonials escaped with a one-point road victory after the Blackbirds missed three shots in the game's final, frantic 11 seconds. With first place in the Northeast Conference up for grabs at the Sewall Center on Thursday night, Long Island sidestepped the drama. Lifted by Michael Culpo's 3-point touch and the board-crashing efforts of Jamal Olasewere and Julian Boyd, the Blackbirds rapped RMU 83-67 to remain atop the NEC standings.

The Colonials (8-10, 4-3 NEC) took a 33-31 lead into halftime, out-rebounding the nation's eighth-best board-grabbing squad 16-13 and getting one 3-pointer apiece from Russell Johnson, Velton Jones and Coron Williams in six combined attempts. However, RMU got outmuscled under the basket by a 21-11 margin and made just one more shot beyond the arc in 10 tries in the second half.

Culpo scored a game-high 19 points for Long Island (14-4, 6-1 NEC), winners of eight consecutive games. The junior guard, a career 43 percent shooter from deep, made five-of-six 3-pointers.

A pair of sophomore forwards just missed double-doubles for the Blackbirds, as Olasewere had 17 points and nine rebounds and Boyd put up 12 points while snatching eight rebounds. C.J. Garner and David Hicks also scored in double digits, registering 11 points apiece for the nation's 11th-ranked team in points per game.

As was the case when RMU played Long Island in December, Jones led the Colonials in scoring. The redshirt sophomore had 14 points, though he made just one of five shots from the free-throw line. Russell Johnson scored 11 points and had six rebounds, while Anthony Myers put up 10 points.

Karon Abraham, the Colonials' leading scorer and the reigning NEC Player of the Week, shot just two of seven from the field and committed a career-high six turnovers. Abraham made a combined eleven 3-pointers in wins over Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth, but he went without a trey versus Long Island, missing all three of his attempts.

Off the bench, Lawrence Bridges had seven points and six boards for RMU. Williams added six, and Yann Charles had five points and four rebounds.

Thursday's loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Colonials and marked the club's first loss at home this season. RMU is 5-1 at the Sewall Center during the 2010-11 campaign. At 4-3 in NEC play, RMU is now two games back of Long Island and falls to the middle of the pack in conference play.

FG%: RMU 41.9, LIU 51.9
FT%: RMU 64.7, LIU 62.5
3-PT: RMU 25.0, LIU 45.0
RBS: RMU 27, LIU 34

RMU- Jones 14; LIU- Culpo 19
Rebounds: RMU- Bridges, Johnson 6; LIU- Olasewere 9
Assists: RMU- Jones 3; LIU- Brickman 5
Blocks: RMU- None; LIU- Boyd, Hucks, Johnson, Onyechi 1

The Colonials finish up a four-game home stand on Saturday, facing St. Francis (NY) at 7 p.m. The Terriers are in a 2-6 tailspin over their past eight games. Long Island takes on the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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