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December 18, 2013
RMU grabs second straight win
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It had all the hallmarks of a trap game. Robert Morris, fresh off a win over its crosstown rival that snapped a five-game losing streak, played host to Campbell Wednesday night with students on winter break. RMU had found its footing on the backs of a 2-3 zone, and Campbell entered the contest as a dangerous 3-point shooting team, usually a potent tonic against the zone.
Campbell took its 3-pointers, but Campbell couldn't consistently crack RMU's suddenly vaunted zone defense and Robert Morris' own offense contained enough firepower to give the Colonials a 72-61 win to improve to 5-7.
"I thought we did a lot of things well early," head coach Andrew Toole said. "We were a little sluggish in the middle of the game, and then made some plays late and executed defensively late to be able to hang on and win the game."
Campbell shot 22 3-pointers but made just 31.8 percent of them. If not for the Camels' 14 offensive rebounds, the 11-point margin of victory might have been larger for Robert Morris.
"We just weren't crashing the boards as we knew we could," Lucky Jones said. "If we would have boxed out or had all five going to the glass, we would have done a better job rebounding."
Robert Morris never trailed, but the Colonials allowed Campbell to keep the game close. A game after praising his bench for its play in the win over Duquesne, Toole was more lukewarm regarding the reserves' effort against the Camels. Kavon Stewart had four steals and a handful of assists, while Aaron Tate provided four rebounds and otherwise solid play. But Toole is still looking for more.
"We had some guys that gave some great efforts on Saturday and some of them weren't as energetic or as focused as they needed to be today," Toole said. "We need as much consistency as humanly possible."
Even with the hiccups, Robert Morris was able to stay in control. A Jones 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half gave Robert Morris a 36-29 edge at the break, and though Campbell closed to within a single possession, the Camels could never tie it back up.
A couple of turnovers helped Campbell cut the lead to 47-45 with 10:37 to go, but Karvel Anderson's drive and kick to Tate for a jumper and Anthony Myers-Pate's outstanding behind-the-back pass to Anderson for a 3-pointer reignited the Colonials down the stretch. RMU led by as much as 13 in the second half.
The Colonials' own 3-point prowess came into play, as RMU knocked down 50 percent of its 18 3-pointers. RMU also shared the ball well, dishing out 16 assists on 22 total field goals, with Myers-Pate getting eight of the assists. Jones had a team-high 18 points, while Anderson had 16 and Myers-Pate had 12.
It was also the third straight game for Robert Morris in the 2-3 zone, and the Colonials are now 2-1 since going away from their traditional man-to-man defense.
"We have a lot of spots to cover at times," Jones said. "We went to something that was working for us and was being effective on the court. As long as we stay effective with it, that's how long we're going to stay with it."
It's also the third straight game that Robert Morris felt relatively good about its performance, with the last two coming in wins.
"It's a little bit of momentum, but we had this talk before when we won two in a row," Jones said. "We have to stay humble. We have a great Oakland team coming up."
Robert Morris finishes up its non-conference schedule with a trip to Michigan to play Oakland University on Sunday, followed by treks to Oklahoma State and Alabama. RMU won't play at home again until January 16.
Officials: Jim Bruno, Ralph Bretz, Dwayne Carnes
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at email@example.com.
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