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December 2, 2012

Anderson, Appolon step up for RMU

In sports, there is always the old adage, when a key player goes down, someone must step up.

As Robert Morris was preparing to battle Ohio University, who was 6-0 and fresh off a Sweet 16 appearance last season, the Colonials learned that they would be without Ant Myers-Pate, who was bothered by an ankle injury. Two Colonials played a much increased role, and both took advantage of the opportunity.

Karvel Anderson put on a shooting display, going 10-10 from the floor, and 8-8 from three point range. David Appolon played in his first game since the opener at Rider, and provided tons of energy. Both players stepped up big for the Colonials, and it all started on the defensive side of the ball.

When asked about his near flawless offensive game, Anderson wasn't blown away.

"I mean, honestly no. It's just basketball. It's making shots," he said.

Anderson has always had faith in his abilities on that side of the ball, but where he was impressed with his performance was on defense, where he played a very solid game.

"I was able to sustain effort on both ends of the floor. The fact that I could help my team communicate, grab rebounds, be good on defense, and be a good teammate, that's what impressed me the most," Anderson said.

While the Colonials were very efficient offensively and scored 84 points on 56.4 percent shooting, what won them the game was their defense. Coming into the game, Ohio was 14th in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting just above 50 percent. RMU held the Bobcats 40.3 percent for the game, and locked down in the first half, holding Ohio to 38.5 percent. RMU had a few missteps in rotation, but for the most part the Colonials contested the Bobcats shots all night long.

"I thought as best we could for the most part, we tried to contest almost every shot," coach Andrew Toole said. "When you do that, you keep people's shooting percentage down."

They were also excellent in transition defense, including a few nice stops right after the tip. Early in the game, Anderson and Coron Williams stopped a three on two, and that was a key to the Colonials getting off to a great start.

"When you watch them on film, they get a ton of threes in transition, and on extra passes. They didn't get very many wide open looks on an extra pass, or transition situation tonight," Toole said.

Appolon was also a big key for the Colonials. He came off the bench and provided an energy boost all game long. He had multiple deflections, grabbed four rebounds, and went the length of the court for a huge bucket while drawling a foul.

His defense on star Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper was a major catalyst, and Appolon embraced the challenge.

"I tried to get into his head," he said. "I told the coaches I want number five, they tried to put me on (Walter) Offut, but I told them I want number five."

Around the 5:03 minute mark in the second half, Appolon locked down Cooper for the entire possession which lead to a bad Ohio shot. As RMU brought the ball down the court, Cooper showed his frustration and shoved Appolon, picking up a silly foul.

"He was talking trash," Appolon said. "I smiled at him, clapped in his face. Just tried to slow him down every time."

RMU will look to take this energy into their next game. Coach Toole is still looking for consistency, and wants his team to bring this same amount of intensity and focus every time they step onto the court. Whether they'll have Myers-Pate back is still up in the air.

"I don't know, we will see how he feels in the morning," Toole said.

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