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January 11, 2014
Anderson's 32 propels RMU past Bryant
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Karvel Anderson would not be denied.
Not with the game tied and Robert Morris needing another road win in the Northeast Conference. Not with the shot clock winding down - again - and his team needing even the slightest burst of momentum. Not even with a Bryant defender shadowing him all over the court and another coming to double-team him at the three-point line.
None of it mattered. Anderson shook free of his shadow to get the ball, hop-stepped past the double team, and with the shot clock buzzer about to sound, hit a leaner in the lane with 38 seconds left to help Robert Morris hold off Bryant 71-67 to improve to 2-0 in the Northeast Conference.
"This is conference basketball on the road," head coach Andrew Toole said on his post-game radio show. "There are no easy games, no easy opponents, no easy situation. We had one of our worst shooting halves in a while, and we're still able to win the game."
Less than 48 hours after dropping a career-high 36 points against Sacred Heart, Anderson was at it again versus Bryant. He wasn't quite as efficient, but Anderson scored 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting while chipping in four rebounds and four assists. It is the first time a Robert Morris player has scored 30-points in back-to-back games since Gene Nabors did it in the 2000 NEC Tournament.
"Karvel is somebody who, if I didn't coach him, I would root for him incredibly hard," Toole said. "I really admire the way he goes about his business, the way he handles himself, the way he prepares himself on and off the floor. It's a privilege to be able to coach him."
Just like Thursday night, Robert Morris needed everything Anderson could give them. The Colonials were without starting center Mike McFadden, whose problematic knee flared up again. The lack of a consistent inside presence allowed Bryant to lean on senior Alex Francis, and the dynamic forward scored 29 points to lead the Bulldogs.
"We still have some things that we need to tighten up on a regular basis," Toole said. "We had a couple ebbs and flows of when they made a little bit of a run on us and we needed to up our energy."
But Robert Morris kept Bryant's perimeter scorers relatively quiet. With the game tied at 36 at the half, neither team could get much offense going to start the second half. Bryant led 47-44 with 11:26 to go, and it looked like the game might finish in the low 60s with neither team able to hit a shot. But then Dyami Starks found a little bit of a rhythm and a hit couple of shots from the perimeter, and the game opened up.
Robert Morris kept it close, thanks to 14 straight points from Anderson and Charles Oliver, and Starks cooled off again. He finished just 5-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-10 from beyond the arc.
"He got into a little bit of foul trouble and stayed out of rhythm," Toole said of Starks. "I think our guys were communicating and always knew where he was. I thought they did a good job."
The game went back and forth down the stretch until Anderson struck twice. His 3-pointer with 3:43 left gave Robert Morris a 65-64 lead, and then his jumper on the baseline with 2:03 left pushed RMU ahead 67-64. Starks hit a 3-pointer to tie the game again with 1:16 remaining, but then Anderson pulled off his Houdini act for what would prove to be the game-winner.
Bryant had one more chance to tie or take the lead, but missed on an alley-oop try and a desperation 3-pointer from Starks. Fittingly, Anderson iced the game with a rebound and two free throws.
"It's funny, he scores 36 and 32 and he couldn't be more happier for the rest of his teammates," Toole said. "He thanks his teammates, and he appreciates the opportunity this game has given him and he's trying to pay it back the best way possible. We're fortunate to be part of it."
"Those are the details that make the difference," Toole said. "Our guys didn't always do it to perfection, but their hearts and minds were in the right place and I think that's why we came out on top."
The win enabled Robert Morris to cap its five game road trip with two straight victories. The Colonials will now play five of their next six games in the friendly confines of the Sewall Center.
Officials: Gary Pucino, Steve Ruppenthal, Dan Anderson
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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