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December 8, 2012Tweet Follow @achiappazzi
The 50th win of Andrew Toole's coaching career had his trademarks all over it. Toole's Robert Morris basketball team used strong defensive stretches and balanced scoring to beat Hampton 66-54.
The win gave Toole his 50th win as head coach, but it also gave Robert Morris a three-game win streak as they head into finals week and a showdown next Saturday with crosstown rival Duquesne.
"Hopefully there will be many more to come," Toole said on his postgame radio show. "We've had a lot of good players and good coaches to get to that 50 wins in a relatively short amount of time."
Saturday's win was typical for Robert Morris. Coron Williams and Karvel Anderson had 12 points apiece to lead RMU in scoring, while Lucky Jones chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds and Velton Jones dished out five assists.
Robert Morris' offense wasn't spectacular, shooting just 39.6 percent, but it was efficient when they knocked down shots, as the team picked up assists on 15 of its 21 made field goal attempts.
The real story of the day was Robert Morris' defense. Though the Colonials had lapses where Hampton rallied, several significant stretches of solid defensive play gave Robert Morris a large enough cushion. The first came in the first half, as Robert Morris used a 17-3 run stretched out over 10:44 to take a 25-14 lead.
Hampton closed the gap to 29-21 at halftime, setting up a theme for the second half. Robert Morris would go on a run and appear poised to put the game away, only to relax and let Hampton whittle the deficit back to down.
"They're always a struggle. I wish I could say there would be an easy one, but they don't come around very often," Toole said. "We'd go on a run, get comfortable and relaxed. They'd come back, we'd go on a run and get comfortable and relaxed."
Toole said that might be the biggest hurdle for Robert Morris to overcome in the coming weeks.
"If you're going to truly become the team you want to become and reach your potential, have a chance to compete for championships, your effort certainly can't be sporadic," he said.
Despite being out-sized, Robert Morris defended the paint well. Hampton had 28 points in the paint, but the Colonials also forced the Pirates into 23 3-point attempts. That was only the second time this year that Hampton had more than 16 in a game, and the Pirates made only six of them.
"I thought we did a nice job of surrounding the post and being active there," Toole said. "When you put that kind of emphasis on defending the paint, you're going to have to give something up and they stepped up and made some tough shots."
Hampton also struggled at the foul line, making just 6-of-18 free throws. The Colonials also took advantage of Hampton mistakes, forcing 20 turnovers and turning those miscues into 19 points.
Outside of the win, the biggest news was the return of Russell Johnson and Anthony Myers-Pate. Johnson returned after missing the Campbell game with multiple injuries, while Myers-Pate played his first game since Savannah State.
With guys returning - Keith Armstrong is also getting closer to making his debut - Toole said playing a few games with a full bench should help iron out a few wrinkles.
"We haven't had a full lineup yet for one game. We haven't really had a full team," he said. "But I'm excited about the prospects we have going forward if we can get healthy and we can become much more consistent in our approach."
Officials: Emanuel Upton, Harold Harris, Jose Carrion
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