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Coron Williams helps Robert Morris regain footing

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Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012

Coron Williams helped Robert Morris regain its footing Saturday night.

Now the Colonials -- riddled with injuries, an ineffective defense and a nagging habit of forking over leads like Halloween candy -- must hope the sophomore guard can be back on his feet in the next few days after an injury ended his evening prematurely.

Williams scored a game-high 20 points to carry the Colonials to a 70-67 victory over Sacred Heart at Sewall Center that snapped a two-game losing streak. But with 12 minutes, 30 seconds left, Williams suffered what appeared to be a left ankle sprain.

He tried to return with 5:46 left, only to leave a short while later for good. He was not available for comment after the game.

"He was aggressive," coach Andy Toole said of Williams, who made eight of 13 shots, including four of six from 3-point range. "He hunted shots, which good shooters have to do."

Junior guard Velton Jones finished with 18 points and five assists despite coming off the bench after Toole tried to start a more defensive-minded lineup. Russell Johnson, another regular starter, was held out with a wrist injury.

Shane Gibson led Sacred Heart (8-11, 2-4 NEC) with a game-high 29 points and made 7 of 11 shots from 3-point range. The Pioneers shot 50 percent (12 of 24) from beyond the arc.

Two nights after squandering an eight-point halftime edge against Quinnipiac, Robert Morris (13-6, 4-2) had its 15-point, second-half lead erased by a 3-pointer from Gibson with 2:37 left. But Lawrence Bridges was fouled and made both free throws with 51 seconds left to seal the win. Bridges and Lijah Thompson grabbed key defensive rebounds in the closing seconds, and a desperate 3-point attempt from Gibson was off the mark.

"Great to bounce back after two tough games and get a win, that's for sure," Toole said. "But there's so much stuff we have to clean up that it's scary."

The teams kept it close early, not separating by more than four points until Robert Morris used an 11-1 run to turn a 19-15 deficit into a 26-20 advantage following a three-point play from Thompson with 4:10 left before halftime. Sacred Heart drew within four early in the second half, but the Colonials answered with a 7-0 run that ended with a 3-pointer by Williams with 17:14 left, giving them a 46-35 lead.

That advantage grew to 15 after a putback by Mike McFadden at 11:31 before Sacred Heart made its final push.

"They kept fighting, and we kind of got a little relaxed," Jones said. "We let them get rebounds, and we didn't do the little things to finish the game. But that's conference basketball for you. A team is not just going to give up and let you win the game."

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