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January 31, 2013Tweet Follow @achiappazzi
The odds of Robert Morris sweeping a difficult trip through Brooklyn were low. Doing it without Velton Jones might make it even tougher.
Robert Morris dropped the first leg of the Brooklyn trip by falling 71-61 to St. Francis-Brooklyn Thursday night. In the process, they lost Jones to a shoulder injury. Jones injured the shoulder two minutes into the game, made an aborted return to the game, and his status for Saturday's showdown against LIU-Brooklyn is in doubt.
"That's just an excuse. We think that we have guys who can come in and step for each other and make plays when they need to be made," Andy Toole said on his post-game radio show. "You have to show that in a game. A lot of winning on the road is being able to be mentally tough as well as physically tough and not have some of the breakdowns that we had."
With or without Jones, Robert Morris wasn't going to win many games by playing the way it did against St. Francis. After claiming an early lead, Robert Morris allowed St. Francis to go on a 20-8 run to finish out the first half. The Terriers led 37-30 at the break and were shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Meanwhile, Robert Morris was out of sync offensively. The Colonials shot 41.8 percent for the game and struggled to hit 3-pointers, elements that had been behind Robert Morris having one of the more efficient offenses in the league.
"When they needed to get stops, they got stops. When they needed to disrupt timing or do different things like that, they did that," Toole said. "We weren't able to get our footing very well offensively, and then defensively we weren't much better either."
Though the Colonials locked down a little bit defensively in the second half, St. Francis still finished the game shooting 47 percent from the field, a number that was too high for Toole. The defensive breakdowns also came at the worst possible times for Robert Morris, including allowing Ben Mockford to hit an open 3-pointer in the corner on an inbounds play with 5:42 left. Mockford then hit another 3-pointer on the next trip down the floor, and Jalen Cannon converted an and-one on the following trip.
Robert Morris scored in-between each St. Francis bucket in that stretch, but what had been a four point game prior to Mockford's buzzer-beating 3-pointer was suddenly an 8-point game.
"We give up nine points just on plays that we have to make to win the game. We didn't make those plays tonight," Toole said. "In order for us to be the best team we can be, we have to make those plays. You have to complete that win when it's asked for you."
Karvel Anderson, Coron Williams and Anthony Myers-Pate all made shots down the stretch when Robert Morris needed them, but the Colonials couldn't shut St. Francis down. The Terriers had a response every time Robert Morris closed the gap. That included a crushing 3-pointer from Mockford after Russell Johnson took a contested 3-pointer with RMU down 63-58 with 1:03 left.
"We were scrambling. Guys were continuing to work and fly around," Toole said. "But with that effort sometimes has to come a little bit of intelligence an detail. We definitely hurt ourselves as much as we helped St. Francis win the game tonight."
Anderson and Myers-Pate led RMU with 14 points each. Lucky Jones had 11 points and played significant minutes despite initially being questionable with a knee injury. Johnson had 15 rebounds to go with eight points.
Toole said they'll ice Jones' shoulder and then check range of motion prior to Saturday's game. There is no diagnosis on the severity of the injury or if he'll miss much time, if any at all.
Robert Morris, LIU Brooklyn, Wagner, and Sacred Heart are all tied for second in the NEC at 6-3. Bryant took back sole possession of first with a win over Fairleigh Dickinson.
Technical Fouls: D. Appolon
Officials: Paul Huovinen, Ray Perone, Robert Riley
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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