RMU downs St. Francis (N.Y.) to reach NEC semifinals
By John Harris
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 7:51 p.m.
Robert Morris, the top seed in the NEC Tournament, is playing its best basketball at the right time.
The Colonials routed No. 8 seed St. Francis (N.Y.), 75-57, Wednesday night in a quarterfinal game at Sewall Center that avenged an early-season loss and maintained their status as the hottest team in the league.
RMU has won six straight, nine of 10 and 15 of 17.
The Colonials (23-9) will need to maintain that streak against No. 5 seed Mount St. Mary's in a semifinal matchup at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Sewall Center.
The NEC Tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“We're just trying to be humble. We're not worried about how many games we've won,” senior point guard Velton Jones said.
Formerly a scorer, Jones distributed a game-high eight assists. His playmaking skills led to a big performance for Karvel Anderson, who lit up St. Francis for a game-high 20 points in only 23 minutes off the bench.
Anderson did most of his damage in the second half, when he scored 13 points. Russell Johnson (19 points) and Lucky Jones (16) got the Colonials started early, combining for 23 points in the first half, including 15 of RMU's first 18 points.
Draining 7 of 9 shots, the Colonials led 18-6 at the 15:59 mark.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult game,” said Lucky Jones, who shot 5 for 9 and grabbed seven rebounds.
Johnson added seven rebounds and a game-high five steals.
“We just talked to the guys and got them ready for what they're in for,” Johnson said about the Colonials' mental approach entering the Tournament.
St. Francis coach Glenn Braica said his players didn't match the Colonials' intensity as they did in a 71-61 upset win Jan. 31.
“Mentally, the edge favored them tonight,” said Braica, whose team finished the season at 12-18. “They were going to come in on all cylinders.”
“I hope we can play as long as they allow us to,” RMU coach Andrew Toole said.
Strong defense settled RMU after a St. Francis run cut the lead to 20-16. The Colonials regained a double-digit advantage, 26-16, as their pressure created more possessions and their shot-selection improved.
RMU scored the final five points to lead 37-23 at intermission.
The Colonials opened the second half determined not to experience a similar letdown that permitted St. Francis to remain close during early stretches.
Coron Williams buried a 3-pointer to open a 40-23 lead. After a St. Francis basket cut the advantage to 15 points, a defensive lapse allowed the visitors a free drive to the basket. The shot missed, but Brent Jones was awarded two free throws that could have put some pressure on the Colonials. Jones missed both shots. St. Francis followed that by committing a turnover on its next possession.
The pattern of the game was established. Despite losing at St. Francis during the season, RMU was the superior team. When the Colonials finally put it all together, they were be able to start looking ahead to Saturday's semifinal.
RMU's takeover took longer than expected. The Colonials opened the second half missing five of their first eight shots.
Jones provided stabilizing leadership, sinking a short jumper and feeding Anderson for a fastbreak layup.
Anderson's 3-pointer from the top of the circle gave RMU its largest lead of the night at 56-33. And still the Colonials couldn't put St. Francis away.
The Colonials led, 57-39, as St. Francis slowed the game with a steady stream of hard-charging drives resulting in free throws that compensated for poor field-goal shooting.
Anderson drained back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 68-45. Another RMU basket extended the lead to 70-47 and resulted in a St. Francis timeout with 4:27 remaining.
“I had the opportunity to put the nail in the coffin, and I took advantage of it,” Anderson said.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @jharris_trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Century III new owner seeks to reverse vacancy trend with new theater
- Fitness briefs: Get Fit Families race; snowshoe class; ‘Voyage to Venus’
- Connellsville wrestling picks up 1st win of season
- Oakmont addresses Plum Creek flooding
- Motivated quarterback Roethlisberger fights to prop up Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Worilds loses sack; Big Ben gets 1st career catch
- Seton-La Salle’s Clancy off to soaring start after 44-point performance
- Health-insurance mandate poses potential hitch for volunteer fire companies
- South Butler hires company to perform security audit of buildings, train staff
- Buffalo Township real estate taxes to rise by almost 30%
- Bengals’ balanced offense poses threat to Steelers