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Colonials battle back for overtime win over Red Flash

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Rodney Pryor scored 22 points and Lucky Jones added 20 as Robert Morris stormed back to edge St. Francis-PA 71-70 in overtime on Saturday.

Robert Morris erased a 12-point deficit in the first half to force overtime and fell behind by eight points in the extra frame before rallying for a 71-70 victory over Saint Francis U. Saturday at the Charles L. Sewall Center in the 2014-15 regular-season finale for both teams.

RMU improved to 16-14 overall on the 2014-15 campaign and in the process clinched its 10th consecutive winning season, extending a school record. The Colonials also secured second place in the Northeast Conference with a 12-6 mark.

Earl Brown's dunk on a fastbreak at the 3:23 mark of overtime helped Saint Francis U. grab a 65-57 advantage, and the Red Flash also owned a 67-59 cushion with 2:34 left after a pair of free throws from Malik Harmon.

"You always want to grab a lead at the beginning of overtime, but even though we didn't we were able to buckle down and get stops, and that helped us get the win," junior guard Rodney Pryor said.

Pryor buried a three-pointer on RMU's next possession, and on ensuing inbounds Ronnie Drinnon turned the ball over. Senior forward Lucky Jones came up with the loose ball in the paint and converted a layup while also being fouled by Greg Brown. Jones converted the three-point play to help Robert Morris trim its deficit to 67-65 with 2:16 remaining.

A few empty possessions by both teams led to Ollie Jackson being called for an intentional foul on Jones with 51.9 seconds to go. Jones hit the front end of his pair at the stripe to make it 67-66 in favor of SFU, but Robert Morris came up the with offensive rebound. Freshman guard Marcquise Reed was eventually fouled with 37 seconds remaining and hit both of his attempts to give the Colonials their first lead of overtime, 68-67.

Drinnon followed with a missed jumper, and freshman forward Elijah Minnie came down with the rebound for RMU. He was immediately fouled and hit one of his two attempts at the line to push the Robert Morris advantage to 69-67 with 15.1 seconds to play.

Saint Francis U. had a chance to tie, but Jones took a charge on a driving Greg Brown, giving the ball back to the Colonials. Jones was immediately fouled and hit a pair at the chalk with 3.2 seconds left to make it a two-possession game in favor of Robert Morris, 71-67. Earl Brown buried a shot from halfcourt as time expired to settle the final score.

"A completely wild game," head coach Andrew Toole said. "I'm proud our guys fought to get the game to overtime, and then we continued to fight back in overtime to win the game. Rodney's three gave us some room to breath, and then Lucky gets the basket and foul. We were resuscitated."

The Red Flash, who finished the regular season with an overall record of 15-14, including 9-9 in the NEC, grabbed their biggest lead of the game at the 4:15 mark of the first half, when Harmon buried a three-pointer to give SFU a 32-20 lead. Robert Morris closed the half with a 6-1 spurt to trim its deficit to 33-26 at the break.

Harmon opened the second half with a triple to again give Saint Francis U. a double-digit cushion, 36-26, but a 14-2 run that featured five points from junior guard Rodney Pryor and a three-pointer from Minnie pulled the Colonials to within 40-38.

Saint Francis U. weathered the storm, holding the lead until Pryor connected from beyond the arc with 9:23 left in regulation that gave Robert Morris a 48-47 lead. RMU owned the lead the rest of the second half.

Earl Brown tied the contest, 54-54, at the 1:23 mark of regulation by going 1-for-2 at the stripe, but Pryor's three-pointer with a minute left gave the Colonials a 57-54 cushion. SFU answered with a triple from Jackson to knot it, 57-57, and Pryor's three-point attempt from the wing as time expired was off the mark, sending the game to overtime.

Taking home game-high honors in scoring was Earl Brown, who finished with 30 points while also grabbing 10 rebounds. He shot 9-of-14 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from deep, and was 10-for-12 at the free-throw line. Harmon added 14 points and four assists for the Red Flash.

Pryor finished with 22 points, six rebounds and three assists to lead Robert Morris. Jones added 20 points off the bench on the strength of an 8-for-9 performance at the chalk, while Minnie finished with six points and a career-high 12 caroms.

RMU now gears up for the 2015 Northeast Conference Tournament. As the No. 2 seed, the Colonials welcome No. 7 seed Wagner to the Sewall Center Wednesday, March 4, for a 7:00 p.m. tip.

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