Robert Morris holds on for 83-79 win against Wagner College

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It was a lead that once appeared insurmountable, other times comfortable and in many other instances, large enough to hold on to a win.

For Robert Morris, though, it was one that slowly and steadily decreased before the harsh reality hit that what once seemed so assured was gone entirely.

Thankfully for the Colonials, a measure of redemption, and ultimately a victory, was found in the game's final five minutes.

After leading by as many as 21 points in the first half and 15 at halftime, Robert Morris withstood a frenzied late run from Wagner to hold on for an 83-79 victory against Wagner College in overtime Saturday night at the Charles Sewall Center.

The win extends the Colonials' (17-8, 9-3 Northeast Conference) lead over the Seahawks (13-10, 7-5) in the NEC standings to two games. They trail first-place Bryant by a half-game.

Partially energized by senior guard Velton Jones' return to the lineup after Wednesday's win over Saint Francis, the Colonials raced out to an early lead that got as high as 21 points before they entered halftime with a 42-27 advantage. Robert Morris shot 58.3 percent in the first half, which included a 55.6 percent mark from 3-point range.

Though the Colonials maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half, Wagner steadily worked its way back into the game, primarily by applying a relentless full-court press that turned Robert Morris over a combined 18 times in regulation and overtime.

The Colonials' lead was trimmed to as little as two points with just over a minute remaining in the game. But with the shot clock just seconds away from hitting zero, guard Karvel Anderson, the team's leading scorer entering the game, drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to extend the lead to five.

However, it would prove to be only a temporary cushion for Robert Morris.

As they had for virtually the entire second half, the Seahawks found a way to come back and, with his team down two with less than 10 seconds remaining, guard Kenneth Ortiz drove through an opening in the middle of the lane to lay the ball in and tie the game.

An open 3-point attempt from forward Russell Johnson rimmed out as time expired, sending the game into overtime.

The teams exchanged baskets in the first four minutes of the extra session, with neither the Seahawks nor the Colonials building more than a one-possession lead.

With Robert Morris leading by one with less than 20 seconds left in the game and three seconds left on the shot clock, Wagner turned the ball over to the Colonials, a sequence that ended with Anderson getting fouled with 12.6 seconds remaining.

Anderson converted on both free throws to extend the lead to three points, with Robert Morris opting to foul with 3.3 seconds left on Wagner's ensuing possession. The Seahawks made the first free throw, but missed the back end.

Forward Lucky Jones went on to hit two free throws to ensure victory.

Jones and Johnson each recorded a team-high 21 points, with guard Coron Williams adding 14 and forward Mike McFadden scoring 10.

Ortiz and guard Latif Rivers both scored 22 points for Wagner.

The Colonials return with back-to-back home games against Quinnipiac (Feb. 14) and Sacred Heart (Feb. 16).

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cmeyer@post-gazette.comTwitter: @craig_a_meyer


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