|Colonials Hang On for 78-74 Win Over Seahawks|
Moon Township, Pa. - Redshirt sophomore guard Velton Jones (Philadelphia, Pa. / Northeast Catholic) hit four free throws in the final 23 seconds Thursday night to help preserve a 78-74 victory for the Robert Morris University men's basketball team over Wagner in a quarterfinal game of the 2011 Northeast Conference Tournament at the Charles L. Sewall Center.
The Colonials improved to 17-13 overall with the win and advance to the semifinals of the NEC Tournament for the fourth straight and will travel to Hamden, Conn., for a 2:00 p.m. game against Quinnipiac at the TD Bank Sports Center Sunday, March 6.
The Seahawks concluded their season with an overall record of 13-17.
RMU held a 12-point advantage with 3:53 to play, 69-57, after a fastbreak layup from freshman guard Anthony Myers (Washington, D.C. / Charis Prep), but a 10-1 spurt by Wagner made it a one-possession game, 70-67, with 1:04 remaining.
Eight of the 10 points for the Seahawks came at the free-throw line, as Latif Rivers converted all six of his attempts, while Tyler Murray converted a three-point play thanks to a layup and foul by senior guard Gary Wallace (Montclair, N.J. / Seton Hall Prep).
After a 30-second timeout by Wagner, Jones found sophomore forward Lijah Thompson (Philadelphia, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner) in the paint for a dunk with 38 seconds to go to push Robert Morris to a 72-67 lead.
Chris Martin answered for Wagner with a three-pointer with 25 ticks left on the clock in the second half, and he immediately fouled Jones and sent him to the charity stripe.
Jones hit both attempts to give the Colonials a four-point cushion, 74-70, but Murray would hit a pair of his own from the free-throw line after a foul by Jones with 14 seconds to play.
Murray would foul Jones on the ensuing inbounds pass, and Jones hit two more free throws with 11 seconds left to again give Robert Morris a four-point advantage, 76-72. Murray missed a jumper with six seconds to go, and redshirt freshman guard Coron Williams (Midlothian, Va. / Christchurch School) sealed the win with a pair of free throws with just five seconds to play.
RMU used a 13-0 run over the final 3:41 of the first half to take a 17-point lead at the break, 38-21. Williams and Jones hit back-to-back three-pointers to ignite the run, while Thompson and junior forward Lawrence Bridges (Detroit, Mich. / Columbus State Community College) each provided dunks in the final 26 seconds of the stanza.
A layup from Jones in the first two minutes of the second half gave the Colonials their largest lead of the game, 41-21, but 16 straight points helped Wagner close to within four, 41-37, with 15 minutes to go. Murray and Martin bolstered the Seahawks during the spurt, as each hit a pair of three-pointers.
Robert Morris weathered the surge and got its lead back to double digits, 53-38, thanks to five points each from Williams and Thompson as part of a 12-1 surge, and the Colonials held their lead in double digits until Wagner's final run.
Jones finished with a career-high 29 points to lead RMU, hitting eight of his 12 attempts from the field, including 4-of-5 from long range, and going 9-for-10 at the free-throw line. He also added six assists and a pair of steals. Williams added 16 points, while Thompson recorded 13 points and five rebounds.
Murray led five Seahawks in double figures scoring with 19 points, while Orlando Parker added 16 points and six rebounds. Martin and Rivers each contributed 14 points, and Josh Thompson added 10 off the bench.