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November 13, 2012Tweet Follow @achiappazzi
PITTSBURGH - The climb out of the hole always takes longer than the fall.
Robert Morris took the first steps of a possible ascent back to its standards Tuesday evening with a 74-58 win over Fordham to cap the regional round of the NIT Season Tip-Off at the Petersen Events Center.
All of the things Andrew Toole said were lacking Monday night in a 29-point loss to Lehigh showed signs of life Tuesday. There were mistakes, to be sure, but four players scored in double figures, the Colonials turned the ball over just ten times, and Fordham shot just 35.8 percent from the floor.
It's a start.
"Obviously winning the game is one of the more important things, but the way we played together and the way we won the game was key," Toole said. "Multiple guys making plays, multiple guys making shots, multiple guys contributing, and that's the way we've always won over the last five years."
Jones had 18 points (half from the free throw line) to go along with five assists. Karvel Anderson had his best game in his early RMU career, putting in 16 points with seven rebounds. Lucky Jones came a rebound shy of a double-double, with 15 points and nine boards, and Coron Williams added 13 points.
"Our attention to detail was pretty good," guard Velton Jones said. "We actually made some shots."
That provided a lift. Robert Morris didn't torch Fordham, shooting just 37.7 percent, but the Colonials found a rhythm early, with their first three buckets coming from beyond the arc. Though the Colonials still did not shoot well from beyond the arc, making just 8-of-28, that early connection allowed them to open up the offense and provide a major confidence boost.
"The strides they made from last Friday to last night, they didn't see because it didn't change on the scoreboard," Toole said. "I tried to tell them that we're going in the right direction and we have everyone's attention now, I think. I was really, really hopeful they would have a good feeling and continue to have that energy."
Up 37-29 at the half, Robert Morris parried a Fordham rally that tied it at 39 by sandwiching a Stephan Hawkins jumper around a timeout and the media timeout. That took energy out of Fordham's surge, allowed Robert Morris to regroup, and the Colonials led the rest of the way.
Robert Morris finally pulled away by shutting Fordham down for 5:48 in the middle of the second half. Fordham didn't score a point as the Colonials took a 47-44 lead and stretched it to 59-44. That was sparked defensively, but it also featured seven straight points off turnovers for RMU, including back-to-back jumpers by Anderson.
"I just finally felt like I'm finally coming back," Anderson said. "I'm getting back to being myself and I know that my teammates count on me a lot to make those kinds of shots."
Robert Morris also made 12-of-16 free throws down the stretch, helping to ice the game. The Colonials outrebounded Fordham, had just ten turnovers, and generally had the focus and details-oriented approach that Toole was looking for. Toole said two big losses helped refocus the team, as players were fed up with the result.
"I think it just comes from your focus," Toole said. "A lot of the stuff that we didn't do in our first two games, it's not like we just changed our game plan overnight. Sometimes things start to change when people get tired of the result."
The win helps Robert Morris stop an early skid before Saturday's game at Xavier and the final round of the NIT Season Tip-Off next Monday and Tuesday. It appears Robert Morris will host that regional, with two games at the Sewall Center each day. The other three teams in the regional will be announced later.
Officials: Gary Prager, Matt Potter, Jim Skipper
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at email@example.com.
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