RMU shocks Duquesne for bragging rights
When Duquesne's players ran up and down the court against Robert Morris' players Tuesday night, they saw themselves. And when Robert Morris' players looked at Duquesne's players, they saw the same thing.
There wasn't much to choose from between the Dukes and Colonials, evenly matched teams whose playing styles are so evenly yoked, it's difficult to tell them apart.
Robert Morris emerged victorious from the mirror image opponents, taking command in the closing minutes for a 64-60 decision over the Dukes before 2,687 high-energy fans at Palumbo Center.
"They're not that big. We're not that big," Robert Morris guard Velton Jones said.
"They play with three guards like we do," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. "We knew it was one of those games we were probably going to have to grind it out.''
Jones said Tuesday night's win was special for the Colonials, and not only because the schools are located only a few miles apart.
The Colonials (7-2), who play in the Northeast Conference, are 2-0 against Atlantic 10 teams this season.
"No one thought we could win this game except us," Jones said. "People look at us like we're little old Robert Morris from the Northeast Conference."
Not after beating Duquesne (5-4), they won't.
The Colonials have now beaten Duquesne in back-to-back seasons after going 27 years since the last time they won two in a row over the Dukes.
"We can't go 27 years between back-to-back wins against Duquesne again,'' Second-year Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said.
The Colonials were more poised down the stretch. Trailing 56-51 with 4:38 to play, they outscored the Dukes 13-4 in making nearly every big shot they attempted.
First, Anthony Myers buried a 3-pointer to make it 56-54. Russell Johnson hit another 3-pointer for a 57-56 lead.
Following two free throws by Lijah Thompson, Jones drove the lane and made a clever pass to Johnson, whose reverse layup made it 61-58 with 30 seconds remaining.
A layup by Duquesne's Sean Johnson cut the lead to 61-60, but Jones, fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass, made two free throws to push the lead back to three at 63-60. Eric Evans' 3-point miss was Duquesne's last chance.
Thompson led four Robert Morris players in double figures with 17 points. Russell Johnson added 15 points, and Jones had 13.
"It's not expected, but we act like it's expected,'' Toole said. "We have an expectation that we can win a game like this."
Evans led Duquesne with 16 points.