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January 12, 2012

Quinnipiac drops RMU with offensive barrage

Another regular season game against Quinnipiac brought another defensive lapse for Robert Morris. Robert Morris dropped its second straight Northeast Conference game, falling 78-76 to Quinnipiac at the Sewall Center. the first time the Colonials have lost two in a row in a year. Robert Morris held a 35-27 lead at the half but gave up 51 points in the second half.

"Cleary you're not going to win a lot of games when your opponent shoots 58.5 from the field and 70 percent from three," head coach Andy Toole said. "We don't have a whole lot of enthusiasm right now. I don't know why."

The game of runs began midway through the first half. After Robert Morris took a 20-17 lead on an Anthony Myers step-back three-pointer, Quinnipiac shut the Colonials down for the next three minutes. Quinnipiac rattled off eight straight points to take a 25-20 lead with 7:45 left in the half. The Colonials answered with their own more sustained run, outscoring the Bobcats 15-2 to finish the half.

Though Velton Jones went scoreless in the first half on 0-of-8 shooting, he helped spark the run by drawing two key charges. Those charges shut down the Bobcats on offense, allowing Robert Morris to separate.

But the game slowly began to disintegrate with the start of the second half. Quinnipiac shot nearly 70 percent in the second half and finished the game at 58.5 percent, including 70 percent from three-point range. The Bobcats trimmed the Colonials' 8-point lead in half by the first media timeout and tied it by the next one. Jones hit his first basket at the 12:40 mark, but it didn't stem the Quinnipiac tide. Robert Morris took its last lead when Jones converted an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 51-50 with 8:38 to go.

"It kind of seemed we didn't have much urgency in the second half again," Toole said. "We missed some easy shots in the second half where you could have kept the lead or pushed it further."

Quinnipiac took the lead back just nine seconds later and never gave it up again. James Johnson, the perennial thorn in Robert Morris' side, hit two big three-pointers to stretch Quinnipiac's lead to 60-55 with 4:29 to go. The Bobcats nursed that lead, going up by as much as 10 and as little as four, until it was 71-64 with 1:02 left in the game.

That sparked a furious attempt at a rally by Robert Morris, but they struggled to get consistent stops. Jones had 15 points 4:29, but Quinnipiac answered nearly basket or free throw. Lucky Jones and Anthony Myers sandwiched two three-pointers around one stop, but Johnson and Evan Conti each hit their free throws. Velton Jones hit a last second lay-up, but Quinnipiac just threw the ball down court to kill the final two seconds and hold on for the 78-76 win.

Velton Jones had 22 points, all in the second half. Lijah Thompson and Mike McFadden had 11 points each. Robert Morris has Sacred Heart on Saturday, requiring the Colonials to wipe the slate the clean.

"No team is going to go 18-0. Just keep fighting," Jones said. "The world's not over. The season's not over. Just keep going and don't sulk too much on the loss."


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