|Jones Lifts Colonials Over Quinnipiac, 64-62|
Hamden, Conn. - Redshirt sophomore guard Velton Jones' (Philadelphia, Pa. / Northeast Catholic) running jumper with 4.3 seconds to play helped lift the Robert Morris University men's basketball team to a 64-62 victory over Quinnipiac Sunday afternoon in the semifinals of the 2011 Northeast Conference Tournament at TD Bank Sports Center.
James Johnson's last second three-pointer attempt from just outside the arc fell short, helping the Colonials extend their winning streak both overall and in NEC Tournament contests to eight games.
RMU improves to 18-13 overall on the 2010-11 campaign and will face No. 1 seed Long Island Wednesday, March 9, for the 2011 NEC Tournament championship at the Wellness Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Tip time is 7:00 p.m., and the tilt will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
In a game that featured 12 ties and 22 lead changes, Robert Morris owned a 61-57 lead with 1:58 to play after a layup from redshirt sophomore forward Russell Johnson (Chester, Pa. / Chester). Deontay Twyman pulled the Bobcats to within one, 61-60, with a three-pointer 22 seconds later, and a pair of free throws by Dave Johnson with 57 seconds left pushed Quinnipiac back in front, 62-61.
Johnson would knot the game for the 12th time, 62-62, by hitting the front end of a pair of free throws with 41 seconds to go after a foul by Lance Brown, but on the missed free throw attempt the ball went out of bounds after a number of players tried to coral the rebound. The officials awarded the ball to the Colonials with 39 seconds remaining.
RMU drained the clock to 13 seconds and took a timeout, and out of the break Jones hit a running jumper reminiscent of a shot he buried late in RMU's 52-50 victory over the Bobcats on the same floor in the 2010 NEC Tournament championship game.
"Obviously that was a fantastic basketball game," Robert Morris head coach Andrew Toole said. "The effort out on that floor, the heart out on that floor, by both teams, is something that should be applauded. It was a fantastic game in a fantastic atmosphere."
Jones was one of four Colonials to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points while adding eight assists and three steals. Redshirt freshman guard Coron Williams (Midlothian, Va. / Christchurch School) led the RMU with 15 points, converting six of his eight shots from the floor, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.
Neither team led by more than seven points, with the Bobcats taking a 31-24 edge at the 1:24 mark of the first half after a layup from Dominique Langston. Robert Morris closed to within 33-29 at halftime thanks to a three-pointer from Johnson and a layup from sophomore forward Lijah Thompson (Phialdelphia, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner).
RMU opened the second half on a 10-2 spurt to take a 39-35 edge as Williams hit a three-pointer and Thompson scored three points, but layups from James Johnson and Justin Rutty helped the Bobcats tie the game, 39-39, with 14 minutes to play. From that point, neither team led by more than four.
Thompson and Johnson each scored 14 points for Robert Morris, while the Bobcats, who finished their season with an overall record of 22-9, were led by Twyman's 14 points.
James Johnson finished with 13 points, while Dave Johnson recorded 10 points and nine assists. Rutty posted 10 rebounds but was held to nine points, including just two after halftime.