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January 9, 2014
Anderson helps RMU pull out win in NEC opener
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No game in conference play is easy, and that's especially true when those games are on the road. Robert Morris knew it might have some hand-wringing moments against Sacred Heart on Thursday as it opened Northeast Conference play. Even when the Pioneers have struggled, they've found ways to frustrate teams with a potent offense.
Indeed, Sacred Heart gave Robert Morris fits at times and kept the game close. But Robert Morris had the perfect tonic: Karvel Anderson.
The senior guard erupted for a career-high 36 points, including a late 3-pointer from NBA range that beat the shot clock, to propel Robert Morris to a 79-70 win and get the Colonials off to a winning start in the NEC.
"He played a spectacular game," head coach Andrew Toole said on his post-game radio show. "It was just incredible to see that shot he made, as well as many of the other ones."
Anderson got hot early, scoring 14 points in the first half as Robert Morris shook off a very sluggish start to grab a 40-31 edge at halftime. Robert Morris struggled at times with the inside of its 2-3 zone defense. Sacred Heart's Mostafa Abdel Latif had 17 points and 12 rebounds as he went to work against a still hobbled Mike McFadden and sophomore Stephan Hawkins.
"We wanted to try and take away some of their 3-point ability," Toole said. "But we also gave away too many freebies down there. I think our guys have to be a little more active in movement and not allow easy lay-ups for guys like Latif and Louis Montes."
But Sacred Heart's defense was porous at times, and Robert Morris connected on 53.6 percent of its shots, including 10-of-15 3-pointers. Lucky Jones chipped in 17 points for the Colonials, who led by double digits multiple times in the second half.
"We have to come out with better energy and intensity," Toole said. "I think that comes from within inside of each of us as we go and prepare for the game."
But the story was Anderson, and he was at his best when Robert Morris needed to stop a Sacred Heart run. With Robert Morris up 62-50, the Pioneers ripped off eight straight points to make it a two-possession game with under eight minutes to go. But Anderson calmly knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to halt Sacred Heart's charge.
Another Sacred Heart run had Robert Morris scrambling with under two minutes to go. But Anderson used a ball fake and a hop step to get a jumper in traffic to make it 74-70 with 1:31 left. A minute later, with the shot clock winding down, he canned a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc in traffic to make it 77-70 with just 29 seconds left.
"We wanted to make sure we got a good look there, obviously up four and a chance to get something going. They actually did a good job and blew up what we had designed," Toole said. "It was contested. It wasn't like it was a standstill wide open shot. It was an incredible shot right off the bounce where he was able to raise up and knock it down."
Anderson's 36 points are the sixth most in team history, and those points came on efficient shooting. The Indiana native was 15-of-19 from the floor and 6-of-7 from 3-point range. He also chipped in five points and three steals.
"It's one of those evenings where you could see he was feeling it. He got in good rhythm. He really mixed his offense up, whether it was drives to the rim, whether it was pull-up jumpers, whether it was the 3-point shot," Toole said. "We know he can shoot it and score with the best of them."
- Robert Morris had 13 steals, and Anderson and Anthony Myers-Pate, two of the primary guys at the top of the Colonials' 2-3 zone, had seven of those steals.
- Courtesy of NEC hoops guru Ron Ratner, only two other players this season have made 15 field goals in as few as 19 attempts. Anderson is now the third.
- Tip for Saturday's game against Bryant is 1 p.m.
Officials: John Hughes, Tom Courtney, Thomas Regan
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at email@example.com.
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