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Robert Morris wins conference opener over Long Island 70-69

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Jones leads Colonials to road win 20 points; Williams 3-pointer provides difference.

Brooklyn, N.Y. - A three-pointer from redshirt freshman guard Coron Williams (Midlothian, Va. / Christchurch School) with 2:44 to play proved to be the difference as the Robert Morris University men's basketball team opened Northeast Conference play Thursday night with a 70-69 win over Long Island at the Wellness, Athletic and Recreation Center.

The victory, RMU's first in an NEC opener on the road since 1998, improved the Colonials to 3-3 overall and 1-0 in conference play this season, while the Blackbirds dipped to 4-2 overall and 0-1 in the NEC.

LIU jumped out to leads of 7-2 and 9-5, but with the score knotted, 13-13, with 11:45 to play in the first half, Robert Morris used a 16-2 run to open up a 29-15 advantage.

The Colonials did most of their damage from beyond the arc during their surge, as redshirt sophomore guard Velton Jones (Philadelphia, Pa. / Northeast Catholic) drilled a trio from downtown, while Williams added his own trifecta.

A quick 5-0 spurt got the deficit back into single digits for Long Island, 29-20, but RMU was able to take a 37-26 lead into halftime thanks to a pair of free throws from both Jones and sophomore forward Lijah Thompson (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner) and buckets from freshmen Yann Charles (Longueuil, Quebec / Champlain St. Albert) and Anthony Myers (Washington, D.C. / Charis Prep).  

In the first seven minutes after intermission the Colonials pushed their advantage to 14 on five separate occasions, the last of which came with 13:42 remaining on a dunk by Thompson to give RMU a 52-38 lead.

The Blackbirds responded with a 14-2 surge to climb within two, 54-52, as Kyle Johnson found his range from beyond the arc. Johnson buried a trio of three-pointers, including a pair in back-to-back possessions for Long Island.

Jones helped squash the run with a floater in the lane with 8:56 remaining to give the Colonials a 56-52 edge, but Long Island took its first lead since early in the contest when Jamal Olasewere connected from long range to put the Blackbirds back on top, 58-56.

The final 7:29 of action included three ties and six lead changes, with Williams snapping a 67-67 deadlock with his third trifecta of the game with 2:44 to go. Olasewere would pull LIU to within one, 70-69, with a layup with just 56 seconds remaining, but in the final 21 seconds Long Island missed three attempts for a game-winning basket, including a pair by Olasewere.

Jones led four Colonials in double figures scoring with 20 points while also recording three rebounds and four assists. Williams chipped in with a career-high 13 points and four rebounds, Thompson added 12 points, four rebounds and a block off the bench and Charles finished with 10 points before fouling out.

Johnson scored 14 of his team-high 20 points in the second half for LIU, Olasewere chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds and Julian Boyd posted 10 points and eight boards. G.J. Garner added 13 points and four assists for the Blackbirds.

Robert Morris closes out a two-game road swing through Brooklyn with its fourth road game of an overall five-game trip Saturday, Dec. 4, with a 4:30 p.m. tip at St. Francis (N.Y.).

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