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Robert Morris knocks off first-place Long Island

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Velton Jones continued his remarkable season with 23 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds to lead Robert Morris to a 75-66 victory over first-place Long Island tonight at the Sewall Center.

The Colonials stretched their winning streak to a season-high four games with the win.

The Colonials improved to 16-6 overall on the 2011-12, including 7-2 in the conference, while the Blackbirds had their nine-game winning streak snapped and slipped to 14-7 overall and 8-1 in the NEC.

In a game in which RMU never trailed, the Colonials scored 11 of the game's first 14 points in surging out to an 11-3 advantage. Redshirt junior guard Velton Jones (Philadelphia, Pa. / Northeast Catholic) scored five points during the opening salvo, while freshman forward Lucky Jones (Newark, N.J. / St. Anthony) added four points.

The Blackbirds closed to within 11-7 after a pair of layups from Jason Brickman, but a layup from sophomore forward Mike McFadden (Newark, N.J. / Technology) and a three-pointer by redshirt sophomore guard Coron Williams (Midlothian, Va. / Christchurch School) pushed the advantage for Robert Morris to 16-7.

LIU closed to within one possession of RMU five other times before halftime, but a 6-0 spurt to close out the first stanza gave the Colonials a 34-26 edge at intermission. Velton Jones scored five points during the run, while Lucky Jones hit one of his two free-throw attempts.

Lucky Jones converted a layup to open the second half to give Robert Morris its first double-digit lead, 36-26, and the advantage eventually swelled to 52-38 with 13:07 remaining thanks to a 9-2 Colonial surge. Williams hit a pair of three-pointers, while Velton Jones added another.

C.J. Garner would help the Blackbirds trim their deficit to 56-47 with 9:01 to play, but six straight points by RMU, including four from junior forward Lijah Thompson (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner) and a fast-break layup off a steal from freshman guard Brandon Herman (Chattanooga, Tenn. / Charis Prep), allowed the Colonials to open up their biggest lead of the game, 62-47, with 6:47 to play.

LIU slowly chipped away, climbing to within 64-59 at the 2:36 mark of the second half after a pair of free throws from Julian Boyd, who led all scorers in the game with 25 points.

Robert Morris weathered the storm as Thompson converted a three-point play with 2:16 to go and the Colonials converted eight of their 10 attempts at the charity stripe in the final two minutes to seal the win.

Velton Jones reached the 20-point plateau for the third straight game and fourth time in his last five contests with a team-high 23 points while also adding six rebounds and seven assists.

Williams chipped in 13 points, while Lucky Jones finished with 10 points, five boards and three steals. Off the bench, Thompson contributed nine points and five boards and tied a career high with four blocks.

Boyd shot 8-for-11 from the field and 7-for-8 at the chalk for his 25 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds for a double-double. Jamal Olasewere added 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, but the rest of the Blackbirds for shot just 26.7 percent (8-for-30) from the field.

Robert Morris concludes its two-game homestand Saturday, Jan. 28, with a 7:00 p.m. tip against St. Francis (N.Y.) at the Sewall Center.
Boyd led LIU with 25 points and 12 rebounds and Jamal Olasewere scored 18.

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