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RMU downs Knights to clinch berth in NEC tourney

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Lijah Thompson scored 16 points and Karon Abraham added 12 to lead Robert Morris over Fairleigh Dickinson 74-50 on Thursday night.

Teaneck, N.J. - The Robert Morris University men's basketball team shot 56.7 percent (17-for-30) from the field in the second half en route to its third straight win with a 74-50 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson Thursday night at Stratis Arena.

Thanks to the win, RMU clinched a berth in the Northeast Conference Tournament for the eighth straight year while also climbing back to .500. The Colonials own an overall record of 13-13, including 9-6 in the Northeast Conference, while the Knights slipped to 4-22 overall and 2-13 in league play.

Sophomore forward Lijah Thompson (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner) scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the second for Robert Morris and also grabbed seven rebounds while blocking four shots and recording three steals to lead the Colonials to the win.

RMU took control against the Knights thanks to a 14-4 surge over the final 8:15 of the first half. Redshirt sophomore forward Russell Johnson (Chester, Pa. / Chester) started the run with a pair of free throws, while Thompson and sophomore guard Karon Abraham (Paterson, N.J. / Harp Academy) each scored four points.

The Knights were held without a field goal in the final 8:23 before intermission, scoring each of their four points at the free-throw line.

RMU received balanced scoring before the break, with senior guard Gary Wallace (Montclair, N.J. / Seton Hall Prep) leading the way with six points.

Defensively Robert Morris held Fairleigh Dickinson to a shooting percentage of just 28.6 percent (6-for-21) in the first half and forced 11 turnovers, recording seven steals and outscoring the Knights, 15-0, in points off turnovers.

In the second half Terence Grier buried a long three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down to trim the deficit for the Knights to nine, 30-21, but a 9-2 surge that included six straight points from Thompson and a three-pointer from Abraham pushed Robert Morris to a 39-23 advantage.

FDU could never get its lead to single digits the rest of the game, with the Colonials taking a 61-39 edge with 6:23 to play after a three-pointer from Abraham.

Thompson finished 6-for-9 shooting from the field and finished 4-for-5 at the free-throw line to lead Robert Morris, while Abraham added 12 points, four rebounds and two assists. Wallace and junior forward Lawrence Bridges (Detroit, Mich. / Columbus State Community College) each finished with nine points.

The Knights were led by Kamil Svrdlik, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.

Robert Morris shot 46.4 percent (26-for-56) from the floor overall, including 45.5 percent (5-for-11) from long range, while Fairleigh Dickinson converted just 34.7 percent (17-of-49) of its opportunities from the field, including 6-of-19 (31.6 percent) from long range.

Robert Morris closes out a three-game road trip Saturday, Feb. 19, with a 7:00 p.m. tip against Monmouth at the M.A.C. in West Long Branch, N.J.

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