RMU remains tied for top spot in Northeast
Velton Jones and Mezie Nwigwe picked a great night to have their career-best games Thursday night for Robert Morris.
The duo combined for 41 points, and Robert Morris rallied to defeat Long Island, 66-58, at the Sewall Center.
Jones scored a game-high 21 points, and Nwigwe added 20 points for the Colonials (13-8, 8-1).
It was the Colonials sixth consecutive victory. They remain in a first-place tie in the Northeast Conference with Quinnipiac (14-6, 8-1), which defeated Wagner.
The Colonials also opened up a two-game lead over Long Island (8-12, 6-3) and St. Francis (N.Y.) (9-11, 6-3).
When Long Island defeated Robert Morris earlier this month, Long Island freshmen Jamal Olasewere and Kenny Onyechi were forces, combining for 27 points. The Colonials limited them to a 16 points last night.
"I liked the intensity and our effort," Robert Morris coach Mike Rice said. "We didn't let things bother us and found a way to win. Our focus on defense was good, our rebounding was not."
Long Island, which shot only 27 percent from the floor, outrebounded Robert Morris, 43-30. It had 21 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance points.
Rebounding is why the Blackbirds stayed in the game.
"I expected our guys to fight for this win," Rice said.
Long Island grabbed a 46-43 lead early in the second half, but Jones rallied his team.
Jones hit a bucket to give Robert Morris a 47-46 lead with 9:47 left, and then he hit another bucket to give the Colonials a 49-47 lead with 8:36 left. They would never trail after that.
"That's his Philadelphia-type attitude," Rice said. "He put the team on his back and carried us.
"In the second half, he told me what we were going to run. I rarely let my point guard have that much control, but that's the type of player I thought we had when I recruited him."
Jones, who graduated for Northeast Catholic in Philadelphia, said he loves playing in these types of gritty games.
"I love the up-and-down games," Jones said. "I didn't feel like I had to carry the team. I just stepped up and did my part."
Nwigwe, who scored 11 of his 20 points in the first half, has put together some solid games the past month. He capped off the first half with a steal and dunk.
"I'm just taking what the defense is giving me," Nwigwe said. "I was a great team effort."
Rob Robinson scored 12 points before fouling out in the second half. He scored the Colonials first five points of the game.
Karon Abraham, the team's leading scorer with a 12.7 average, was held to six points, but Rice said Abraham's defense on Long Island's leading scorer, Jaytornah Wisseh (16.8), was a big reason why the Colonials won. Wisseh scored nine points and had eight turnovers.
"I told (Abraham) he made so many winning plays on defense," Rice said. "He played his tail off. Jaytornah is always a focus on defense."
Olasewere led Long Island with 13 points. Kyle Johnson had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and David Hicks scored 10 points.