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December 22, 2013
Oakland tops RMU in shootout
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In need of a win to keep building momentum prior to its Northeast Conference schedule, Robert Morris gave its best offensive performance of the season Sunday afternoon against Oakland.
The Colonials shot 52.3 percent from the floor, dished out 21 assists and scored a season-high 94 points.
Unfortunately for Robert Morris, Oakland also had its best offensive performance of the year, and the Golden Grizzlies were still too much for RMU. Oakland held off a late Robert Morris rally to win 100-94 and drop RMU to 5-8 as it begins a 5-game road trip.
"By the time it was down the stretch, it was too late," head coach Andrew Toole said on his post-game radio show. "We weren't ready to play, and that's on me. I have to figure out some way to be able to express to these guys how hard it is to win Division I games."
Oakland stormed out of the gates and eviscerated Robert Morris' 2-3 zone. The Colonials tried to find a couple ways to neutralize match-up problems within the zone, using more double-teams and other tricks from the opening tip. Instead of shutting Oakland down, though, it opened things up as Oakland exploited multiple slow reactions and miscues.
Toole expressed dismay that his team could score 59 points in the second half and have a better overall - even if not great - defensive performance but not be able to do the same in the first half.
"That's been our issue all year, sustaining our effort," Toole said. "They shredded our zone in the first half. We looked like we were in cement. Then all of a sudden in the second half, we were able to move a little better."
By then it was too late for Robert Morris. Oakland had found its offensive rhythm despite losing in overtime the day before. Much of that had to do with Corey Petros, as the 6-foot-10 center scored 20 first half points en route to a 26-point performance and a 52-35 edge for Oakland at the break. Toole said it wasn't just Petros' scoring that gutted the Colonials.
"The passes that were being thrown to him were almost unguarded at times," Toole said. "We can't let it get in there if we're going to stop him. And once it was in there, it was hard for us to stop him."
Robert Morris didn't go away. The Colonials cut the second-half deficit to 10 on several occasions, but Oakland always seemed to have an answer. With more attention on Petros in the second half, Oakland started taking more 3-pointers. Travis Bader ended up with seven of them in the game en route to 24 points.
But Robert Morris had its own offensive firepower, as Charles Oliver scored eight points in a row in the second half as part of a career-high 18 points. Lucky Jones was also strong, setting a new career-high for the third time this season with 27 points.
RMU needed one more offensive weapon, though, if it was going to try to outscore Oakland. Karvel Anderson, gamely playing through the flu, tried to knock down a couple of much-needed 3-pointers but ended up 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.
"Karvel hasn't done anything since Wednesday night. We always appreciate his effort when he goes out on the floor. We know what kind of heart he has and how much he cares," Toole said. "He just didn't have the same amount of energy. He hasn't been able to keep food down the last couple of days."
In the end, even with 59 points in the second half, Robert Morris could only get close to the Golden Grizzlies. They trimmed the deficit to six points with 96 seconds left, but Oakland iced the game at the free throw line.
Jeremiah Worthem, Mike McFadden and Kavon Stewart all scored in double-figures for Robert Morris. Stewart and Anthony Myers-Pate combined for 16 assists. But Oakland shot 56.9 percent and the hole was just too big for RMU.
"If we play with the proper level of intensity and the proper level of effort, then the first half is different and maybe the game is different," Toole said. "Offense wasn't our problem. It was just our ability to defend and our ability to slow down their players. If you're not going to be engaged to defend, I don't care what defense you play. They're going to score on you."
Robert Morris is off for the next week due to the holiday. They'll regroup over the weekend to get ready for a trip to Oklahoma State on December 30.
Technical Fouls: L. Jones
Technical Fouls: D. Mondy
Officials: Craig Borski, Lewis Garrison, Glenn Tuitt
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at email@example.com.
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