Robert Morris cruises to win against Monmouth
Robert Morris men's basketball coach Andrew Toole wasn't sure how his team would respond against winless Monmouth on Saturday night.
The Colonials answered the call well, especially the young players.
Freshmen Lucky Jones scored 15 points, and Keith Armstrong added 11 to lead Robert Morris (6-2, 2-0 Northeast Conference) to a 69-51 victory at Sewall Center. It's the first time Robert Morris has opened the season 6-2.
The Colonials' bench outscored Monmouth's, 37-15. All nine Colonial players scored.
Ball movement and solid defense were key for the Colonials, especially in the first half. The Colonials led by as many as 19 points and held a 43-25 advantage at the break.
"I was very pleased how we played in the first half. We shot 57 percent from the field, had 10 assists, two turnovers and scored 43 points," Toole said. "We felt we could move their defense and get good shots. But we didn't play well in the second half again.
"This is a tough game because of Monmouth's record. The record doesn't translate how hard they play and never quit. You just don't know what to expect from your young players."
The Colonials received a scare when starting point guard Velton Jones injured his left knee diving into the stands trying to save a ball. Toole said he was told it was a bone bruise.
"It was an unbelievable effort play," Toole said. "When he left his feet, I wished he hadn't. But that's how Velton plays. It was getting stiff on him on the bench, but he told me he wanted back in the game."
Jones had 11 points and four steals, while Anthony Myers came off the bench to chip in with 10 points.
"Robert Morris is solid, tough and well coached," Monmouth coach King Rice said. "They were very unselfish, and many players passed up good shots for better ones. Velton showed me why he's their leader."
Dion Nesmith led Monmouth (0-8, 0-2) with 13 points. Jesse Steele added 11.
Robert Morris finished with a 38-17 edge in rebound, including a 22-4 advantage in the second half.
That didn't impress Toole. He was disappointed that Armstrong hasn't had a defensive rebound in the past 39 minutes and that his centers haven't had one in 53 minutes.
"At some point in time, our centers are going to have to get a rebound," Toole said.
Armstrong said he knows he has to start rebounding.
Jones, who had his best game, also pulled down seven rebounds.
"I'm feeling better, but I have to continue to get better and be more consistent," he said.
Robert Morris plays seven nonconference games before resuming NEC play Jan. 5 at Bryant. The Colonials visit rival Duquesne at 7 p.m. Tuesday.