Moon Township, Pa. - The Robert Morris University men's basketball team stretched its winning streak to three Saturday night and for the third straight year swept "Rivalry Week" in the Northeast Conference with a 70-56 victory over Saint Francis (Pa.) at the Charles L. Sewall Center.
The Colonials, who clinched a spot in the NEC Tournament for the ninth straight year with the win, improved to 19-8 overall and 10-4 in the league, while the Red Flash slipped to 5-20 overall and 4-10 in conference action.
Earl Brown scored the first six points of the game for the Red Flash, including a pair of layups that gave Saint Francis (Pa.) an early 4-0 lead and a jumper that stretched SFU's lead to 6-3.
RMU used a 10-0 spurt to take its first lead of the contest as redshirt junior forwardRussell Johnson (Chester, Pa. / Chester) came off the bench and supplied four points, while redshirt sophomore guard Coron Williams (Midlothian, Va. / Christchurch School) hit a three-pointer.
A layup and a dunk by Scott Eatherton helped the Red Flash close to within 13-10, but an 11-1 run helped Robert Morris open its first double-digit advantage, 24-11, with 8:12 left before halftime.
Johnson hit a pair of three-pointers during the surge, while Williams added a trifecta of his own and sophomore forward Mike McFadden (Newark, N.J. / Technology) capped the spurt with a dunk.
Saint Francis (Pa.) scored the next seven points to close within 24-18, but RMU eventually entered the break with a 37-26 lead thanks to an 8-4 surge in the final 4:21 of the stanza.
Five consecutive points from Brown to open the second half allowed SFU to close to within two possessions, 37-31, but RMU capitalized on turnovers by the Red Flash to keep their lead in double digits.
Williams supplied a pair of fastbreak layups, including one at the 13:24 mark of the second half that gave the Colonials a 48-37 advantage. Overall, Robert Morris finished with a season-high 33 points of SFU's 24 turnovers on the night.
Saint Francis (Pa.), which shot 50 percent (10-for-20) from the field in the second half, used an 8-2 run that closed its deficit to 50-45 with 9:46 to go as Eatherton scored four points and Ollie Jackson buried a three-pointer.
The Red Flash had a chance to pull closer, but turnovers again cost SFU, as four straight points from freshman forward Lucky Jones (Newark, N.J. / St. Anthony), each following miscues by Saint Francis (Pa.), helped Robert Morris stay ahead.
The fourth three-pointer of the game from Williams with 3:26 remaining gave RMU a 61-50 lead, and the Colonials sealed the win at the free-throw line, converting nine of their 10 opportunities at the stripe in the final two and-a-half minutes.
Williams garnered game-high honors with 18 points and also added five rebounds as one of four players in double figures for Robert Morris.
Redshirt junior guard Velton Jones (Philadelphia, Pa. / Northeast Catholic) finished with 13 points, seven assists and five steals, McFadden added 11 points and eight boards and Johnson contributed 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks off the bench.
Johnson's eight caroms extended his career total to 501, helping him become the 16th member of the Robert Morris 500-rebound club.
Velton Jones, meanwhile, finished 9-for-12 at the chalk against the Red Flash, helping him tie the RMU single-season record for free throws of 151. Former Colonial Gabe Jackson (1992-95) also converted 151 free throws as a senior in 1994-95.
Brown scored 17 points to lead Saint Francis (Pa.), Eatherton finished with 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds and Stephon Whyatt added 13 points.
The Colonials continue a three-game homestand Thursday, Feb. 16, with a 7:00 p.m. tip against Bryant at the Sewall Center.
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