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Jones can't will RMU to victory

| Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012

HAMDEN, Conn. -- Velton Jones has had a flair for the dramatic in his three years at Robert Morris. The junior guard beat Sacred Heart at the buzzer Thursday night and twice hit game-winning shots to knock Quinnipiac out of the Northeast Conference tournament.

But on Saturday, Jones took a back seat to Quinnipiac's James Johnson.

Johnson hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes and finished with 28 points as the Bobcats edged Robert Morris, 73-69, in an NEC game. The loss snapped Robert Morris' six-game winning streak, but the Colonials still finished third in the NEC standings and will host a first-round tournament game at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Jones led all scorers with 29 points. The junior guard made 9 for 17 shots from the floor, including four 3-pointers, before fouling out in the game's final seconds.

"He put on his Superman cape and was trying to will them to a win again," Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said. "It was good to finally beat Robert Morris with him playing so well."

But Johnson got the upper hand yesterday in front of a crowd of 3,163 fans. The senior guard gave Quinnipiac (17-12, 10-8 NEC) the lead for good, 62-60, with a 3-pointer with 2:12 to play. After Jones had his shot blocked on a drive to the basket on RMU's next possession, Johnson hit another 3-pointer to extend Quinnipiac's lead to 65-60.

Robert Morris, which also got 15 points from Russell Johnson, eventually trimmed the deficit to 71-69 on Jones' final 3-pointer of the game with 7.2 seconds left. The Colonials (22-9, 13-5) then fouled James Johnson, who missed both free throws.

Johnson knew the second one was off-line, ran down the rebound in the corner and was fouled again. This time he made both free throws to secure the victory.

"It doesn't always come down to the end," Toole said. "We made so many mistakes. Our defensive energy wasn't there at the beginning of the game, and good teams are going to take advantage of it. They did for the first 12 minutes of the half. We gave up 38 points in the first half, and that's too many for us to give up if we're going to win. Even though we were tied, we should have been ahead."

The Bobcats led throughout the first half, and Toole vehemently protested the foul disparity. His complaints finally led to a technical foul with four minutes to go before halftime, and Quinnipiac parlayed the foul shots and another basket by Ousmane Drame (12 points, 11 rebounds) into a 10-point advantage.

But Robert Morris finished the first half on an 11-1 run and tied the game at 38 on a putback by Mike McFadden before the first-half buzzer.

"We've got to have more than two or three guys contributing," said Toole, who is 1-3 all-time against Quinnipiac. "You can't beat a team that rebounds like Quinnipiac unless you're going to get dirty in there, and we didn't do that."

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