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Robert Morris loses lead and game to Quinnipiac

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Velton Jones scored 22 points but Robert Morris lost an eight-point halftime lead and fell to Quinnipiac 78-76 at home on Thursday night. The Colonials are now 3-2 in the NEC.

Quinnipiac shot 66.7 percent (16-for-24) from the field in the second half and 58.5 percent (24-for-41) overall in climbing out of an eight-point halftime deficit to post a 78-76 win over the Robert Morris University men's basketball team Thursday night at the Charles L. Sewall Center.

RMU, which has dropped back-to-back games for the first time in almost a year, slipped to 12-6 overall and 3-2 in the Northeast Conference, while the Bobcats improved to 9-7 overall and 2-3 in league play.

The Colonials held the Bobcats to just a pair of free throws in the final 8:35 of the first half and used a 10-2 run to take a 35-27 advantage at the break.

Five different players scored for Robert Morris during the surge, including five points from junior forward Lijah Thompson (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner) as well as a dunk from senior forward Lawrence Bridges (Detroit, Mich. / Columbus State Community College).

In the first seven minutes of the second half, Quinnipiac hit six of its seven shots from the field in putting together a 16-6 run to take a 43-41 lead with 13:04 to play. Ike Azotam scored seven points, while Evan Conti scored four points.

Redshirt junior guard Velton Jones (Philadelphia, Pa. / Northeast Catholic) helped stem the tide by hitting a three-pointer to push the Colonials back in front, 44-43, and freshman forward Lucky Jones (Newark, N.J. / St. Anthony) hit a pair from the stripe to extend RMU's lead to 46-43.

The game featured eight ties and nine lead changes, and Quinnipiac took control in the final eight minutes with a 10-3 surge that featured a pair of three-pointers from James Johnson and jumpers from Azotam and Dave Johnson.

The run turned a 52-52 deadlock into a 62-55 lead for the Bobcats, and Quinnipiac kept Robert Morris at bay thanks to a pair of layups from Azotam and a 12-for-16 performance at the free-throw line in the final two minutes.

Velton Jones scored all of his game-high 22 points in the second half to lead five Colonials in double figures scoring. Thompson and sophomore forward Mike McFadden (Newark, N.J. / Technology) each scored 11 points, while Lucky Jones and sophomore guard Anthony Myers (Washington, D.C. / Charis Prep) each finished with 10 points.

James Johnson tied Velton Jones for game-high honors in scoring with 22 points, hitting seven of his 12 shots from the floor, including a 4-for-6 performance from beyond the arc. Dave Johnson chipped in 18 points, five assists and six rebounds, while Azotam added 17 points and six boards.

The Bobcats shot 70 percent (7-for-10) from beyond the arc and held a 28-25 edge on the glass.

Robert Morris closes out a two-game homestand Saturday, Jan. 14, with a 7:00 p.m. tip against Sacred Heart at the Sewall Center.

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