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Second half rally lifts Kent State past Robert Morris 62-59

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Russell Johnson scores 12 points, grabs 10 rebounds for third career double-double in early morning thriller

Randal Holt's three-pointer with 29 seconds to play helped Kent State seal a 62-59 victory over the Robert Morris University men's basketball team Tuesday morning in a game broadcast live as part of ESPN's College Basketball Hoops Tip-Off Marathon at the M.A.C. Center.

RMU slips to 1-1 overall on the 2010-11 campaign with the loss, while the Golden Flashes improved to 3-1.

The Colonials owned a 35-23 lead entering the second half, but Kent State used a 16-5 surge in the first eight minutes after intermission to close within one, 40-39. Justin Greene scored four points for the Golden Flashes, while Carlton Guyton hit a three-pointer.

Sophomore forward Lijah Thompson (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner) helped stem the tide for Robert Morris with a layup at the 11:37 mark of the second half that gave the Colonials a 42-39 edge, which started an 8-3 spurt for RMU.

In addition to the layup from Thompson, junior forward Lawrence Bridges (Detroit, Mich. / Columbus State Community College) and redshirt sophomore forward Russell Johnson (Chester, Pa. / Chester) each converted layups while senior guard Gary Wallace (Montclair, N.J. / Seton Hall Prep) knocked down a jumper.

Despite the six-point advantage, a three-point play by Justin Manns and a three-pointer from Michael Porrini tied the game for a fifth time, 48-48, with 7:51 to go. The score remained that way until Greene scored in the paint to give KSU a 50-48 edge with 5:48 remaining.

Holt hit a three-pointer at the 4:24 mark of the second half to help push Kent State out to a 55-51 advantage, and neither team scored for almost four minutes before Holt was whistled for a technical foul with just 1:47 to play. Sophomore guard Karon Abraham (Paterson, N.J. / Harp Academy) hit the back end of his pair of free throws, and he tied the score on RMU's next possession with a three-pointer from the top of the key.

Green and Johnson traded layups before Holt's three-pointer with 29 seconds to play, and Wallace's three-point attempt with just 18 seconds remaining fell short.

RMU opened up a 35-23 halftime lead on the strength of a defense that held the Golden Flashes to a shooting percentage of just 30.4 percent (7-for-23) and balanced offensive scoring.

Tied, 11-11, after a three-pointer from Abraham, the trifecta started the Colonials on a 20-7 run that gave Robert Morris its first double-digit advantage, 28-18. Eight different Colonials scored during the surge, including a three-point play from redshirt sophomore guard Velton Jones (Philadelphia, Pa. / Northeast Catholic).

Jones gave RMU its biggest lead of the game, 35-21, with another three-point play with 48 seconds remaining in the first half before Greene trimmed Kent State's deficit to 12 at the break with a jumper.

Abraham paced Robert Morris with 13 points, while Johnson recorded his first double-double of the 2010-11 season and third of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jones added 10 points, four assists and a pair of steals.

The Colonials converted just 25 percent (10-for-40) of their shots from the field in the second half and 33.3 percent (23-for-69) overall, including a 4-for-24 (16.7 percent) performance from beyond the arc. RMU also shot just 56.3 percent (9-for-16) from the free-throw line.

Robert Morris is next in action Friday, Nov. 19, by returning to the Charles L. Sewall Center to host crosstown rival Duquesne in a 7:00 p.m. tip.

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