Robert Morris' strong first half holds up in victory
Robert Morris basketball coach Andrew Toole loved the way his team began its Northeast Conference opener Thursday. He just wasn't thrilled how they finished.
The Colonials (5-2, 1-0), however, used a strong first half, built up a huge lead, and coasted to a 66-54 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson (1-5, 0-1) at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris returns to conference action 7 p.m. Saturday, when it plays host to Monmouth, which lost to St. Francis (Pa.), 71-49.
"Obviously, I was glad we won the game, but not happy how we finished," Toole said. "In the first half, we attacked their zone, and we had 11 assists and 13 field goals. In the second half, we lost focus and had only four assists and 13 turnovers."
Coron Williams scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the first half. Williams was 5 for 6 from beyond the 3-point line in the first half.
In fact, he outscored FDU (1-5, 0-1) in the first half, as Robert Morris raced out to a 36-14 lead at the break. The Colonials shared the ball and worked it around for the opened shot.
Velton Jones had 18 points, including 12 clutch points in the second half, when FDU made a few runs.
Robert Morris was never threatened in the second half.
"We played pretty well in the first half," Jones said. "We played defense like we're expected."
Williams said: "We got a little too happy, and we relaxed too much in the second half. We have to learn how to manage the game."
One reason Fairleigh Dickinson was able to make a run in the second half was because of the play of leading scorer Lonnie Hayes, who scored all 25 of his points in the second half.
"I challenged him at halftime," Fairleigh Dickinson coach Greg Vetrone said. "I told him he was headed home if he didn't play better.
"They are tough. You can't emulate the way they play defense in practice. You can try to prepare your team for it, but it hits you, and it's like going up against the Green Bay Packers defense."
FDU played without junior guard Melquan Bolding, who transferred from Duquesne. Bolding, who was averaging 16.3 points per game, was benched by Vetrone. He said it was a team and coach's decision. It was the second time this season Bolding had been benched . He missed the season opener at Providence.
"Obviously, I would have liked to see him play and face this pressure," Vetrone said. "Would we have won• I don't know."
Toole said his team prepared like Bolding would be playing. They found out prior to the game that he was not.
"They tried to attack inside, and we did a good job defending," Toole said. "Late in the game, I told the team lets find a way to close it out, and we did a good job getting the ball in Velton's hands."
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