The Long Island University men’s basketball team was one play away from extending its winning streak to seven and moving into a tie for first place.
Instead it saw the Robert Morris squad get the job done and scrape its way to a 60–57 win at the Wellness Center on Saturday afternoon. The Blackbirds couldn’t grab multiple key rebounds in the waning frame, allowing Velton Jones to hit a running jumper that put Robert Morris ahead for good with 11 seconds remaining.
“I was hoping we would get one of the rebounds, is what I was thinking,” Long Island University coach Jack Perri said. “If we get one rebound the outcome changes.”
Jamal Olasware had a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer from the left side that could have forced overtime after two Robert Morris free throws. It hit off the front rim and went out.
Before Jones’s hoop, Long Island University watched the Colonials, after hitting 10 3-pointers, miss three times, but could not get the ball back. On the ensuing possession, Perri chose not to call a timeout because he trusted point guard Jason Brickman and his team’s ability to score off broken plays. Troy Joseph ended up turning the ball over on a drive from the right side.
“Get the ball in Jason’s hands, they don’t get a chance to set up, let’s see what we can come up with,” Perri said was the plan. “I thought Troy should have just passed the ball back out.”
His team trailed 51–43 with 10:21 left in the game, but began scoring inside behind Olasware (18 point, 12 rebounds) as Robert Morris went cold. The Blackbirds (11–11, 6–4) tied the score at 53–53 on two Brickman free throws with 4:10 remaining in the contest.
Robert Morris (15–8, 7–3) played zone in the second half to take away the passing lanes from the senior point guard, who is one of the nation’s leaders in assists. Brickman responded with one of his best offensive games of the season, scoring a game-high 19 points with just four assists. Karvel Anderson paced Robert Morris with 13 points and Russell Johnson had 12.
The Blackbirds will try to get another winning streak started next week when it visits Central Connecticut State on Thursday and hosts Brooklyn rival St. Francis College at noon on Sunday at the Barclay’s Center. Long Island University won the first meeting two weeks ago.
“We’re both Brooklyn teams and it’s always a close game,” Brickman said. “I think this is a really big week for us. This is really going to decide where we are going to be put in the standings.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk
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