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February 21, 2013Tweet Follow @achiappazzi
With about ten minutes left in the second half, Karvel Anderson knocked down a jumper from the top of the key. As Anderson ran back on defense, Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole yelled some additional offensive instructions.
"I just want him to shoot open shots. He passed up two or three open shots during the course of the game that he's got to step up and shoot," Toole said. "I guess he got the message that he needed to shoot some more."
Indeed, he did. Anderson hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the last with 2:20 to go, to help push Robert Morris to a 77-65 win over Monmouth. The victory clinched a spot in the Northeast Conference tournament for the Colonials and kept RMU in first place by a half game.
Anderson had 14 points, with 12 coming in the first half. The two 3-pointers broke open what had been a 3-point game.
"My teammates kept telling me to look to shoot all game and I had two good looking opportunities and it felt good," Anderson said. "I never shy away from a big shot."
Normally not hesitant to shoot, Anderson's been bothered by severe pain in his wrist. Anderson broke the wrist in junior college and had pins taken out in the summer, but the pain flared up again in the Wagner game and hasn't subsided.
"I definitely felt the pain for every shot I took tonight," Anderson said. "But I'm out on the floor and I have to be able to play, have to produce regardless of what's going on. I'll deal with the pain after the game."
Robert Morris had to deal with a desperate Monmouth team, one fighting for its playoff lives in the Hawks' final season in the NEC before moving to the MAAC next year.
"We talked before the game that they're fighting for their playoff lives," Toole said. "And they're going to come and try and compete and make the game chaotic."
Monmouth succeeded, forcing 19 Robert Morris turnovers, mostly through a full-court press. Toole said Russell Johnson, who had six of the team's turnovers, often tried to do too much while players like Coron Williams and Stephan Hawkins didn't adjust well to the press. It was another case where Robert Morris looked flustered against extra pressure in the backcourt.
"I do think we've improved on it," Toole said. "We still have work to do, clearly, and we still have some work to do to get some of our other guys comfortable."
In another situation, Robert Morris might have been burned by the 19 turnovers. Monmouth, after all, scored 22 points off those miscues and used the mistakes - plus a 52 percent shooting effort in the first half - to stay in the game. But the Colonials received a stellar all-around performance from Johnson despite the turnovers. The senior wing scored 20 points, had seven rebounds, and also had six steals and three blocks.
Johnson had significant help from Lucky Jones, who scored 19 points and hit on 6-of-7 3-pointers.
"He's always had the ability to shoot the ball at a high rate when he's had time," Toole said. "He's not great yet shooting on the move. But when he's spotted up, he has a great ability to knock down 3s."
Johnson, Jones, Williams, and others all took advantage of shots from the wing, especially deep in the left corner in the first half. RMU hit five shots from the same spot on the floor and ultimately finished 13-for-24 from beyond the arc.
"At times we'd like some more balance in terms of getting to the rim or shooting the 3, but it's hard to stop guys when they're shooting wide open shots," Toole said.
The strong offensive performance helped Robert Morris keep Monmouth at bay. The Colonials led the entire game and only briefly let the game sink to a single possession. Thanks to losses by LIU Brooklyn and Wagner, Robert Morris moved one step closer to clinching the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage in the NEC Tournament.
"We control our own destiny," point guard Anthony Myers-Pate said. "We can't let that affect us, can't worry about the other teams. We just have to go out there our next three games and take care of business."
- Johnson's seven rebounds give him 704 in his career, just the third Colonial to surpass 700 boards. "I passed a lot of people who came up and snatched a lot of rebounds down. Now that I know that, it feels great," he said.
- Toole remained non-committal as to whether Velton Jones will play Saturday for Senior Night. The other question is whether fan favorite walk-on Treadwell Lewis will also play, or possibly start. It seems likely both will, but nothing is out of the question.
Officials: Donny Etpley, Larry Scirotto, Tony Meeks
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at email@example.com.
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