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December 7, 2013

Losing skid hits five with close loss to Toledo

Andrew Toole is willing to do anything to get his Robert Morris Colonials on the right track.

Saturday afternoon against undefeated Toledo, that included abandoning the defensive identity that RMU has had for the past six seasons and trying something new. Toole and RMU went to a 2-3 zone, with the occasional press, and used a short bench for the entire game to try and snap a four-game losing streak and find a defensive spark.

The change of pace frazzled Toledo early on, but the Rockets recovered and handed a frustrated Robert Morris an 80-77 loss at the Sewall Center. The defeat dropped Robert Morris to 3-7 and left Toole grasping for answers.

"I thought we did a lot of good things and put ourselves in position to win the game. Unfortunately, it always comes down to a handful of plays that either they make or you make," Toole said. "In this case, I think they made a handful of plays and in some cases they got some really big assists from us to make those plays."

Toole went to the zone for two reasons: It was a different look for Toledo's offense, which torched opposing offenses to the tune of 92 points per game entering Saturday's contest. It also allowed Robert Morris to play six players for most of the game. Back-up point guard Kavon Stewart was the only bench player to play more than 10 minutes.

"It would have been ugly if we played man-to-man. I thought it gave us the best chance to win the game," Toole said. "I'm trying to figure out a way to be creative and hide some of our warts, and that may be a way we have to do it. Mixing defenses, mixing lineups, and depending on game-to-game situation, figuring out how we're going to play."

While the end result was the same, the zone defense did bring about a significant change from Robert Morris' other losses. RMU was in this one until the end, largely because Toledo's defense was just as poor and because Karvel Anderson and Lucky Jones were both red-hot. Just a few days after setting a career-high in points at Youngstown State, Jones reset his career-high again, scoring 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Anderson nipped at his heels the entire game, providing 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting. But the defensive effort, even with the change, left them with a sour taste in their mouths.

"It was effective, but we gave up 80 and we lose," Anderson said. "Regardless of what they average, our defense gave up 80 points, so we lose."

RMU led for chunks of both halves, but mental mistakes did the Colonials in during the second half. Up 54-53 with 11:47 left, David Appolon had the ball poked away from behind on a 3-on-1, which Toledo turned into a lay-up. Stephan Hawkins committed an intentional foul on the lay-up, and Toledo made both free throws. The four-point swing was just one of several miscues that left Toole exasperated.

"Talk about a stomach punch. We go from stop, tie game, 3-on-1 break to four-point play on the other end and the ball back," Toole said. "You can't have a more deflating play. A lot of teams right there would have been like, 'Alright, game over."

To their credit, Robert Morris didn't wilt. The two teams were neck-and-neck throughout the final 10 minutes. Anderson and Jones knocked down crucial 3-pointers to help keep it close, but Robert Morris couldn't get a stop. After nearly every made Robert Morris basket, Toole begged and pleaded with his team to string stops together, going to the point of doing jumping jacks on the sideline to try to get his team energized and sharp defensively.

Toledo took a 74-68 lead with just over three minutes left on a Julius Brown jumper, but a Mike McFadden lay-up and Anderson 3-pointer cut the gap to 74-73. Brown and Jones traded baskets, Justin Drummond hit four free throws, and Jones scored again to make it 80-77 with 25 seconds left.

But as Robert Morris was setting up a play to potentially tie the game, Anthony Myers-Pate was whistled for a charge. Robert Morris was able to force a turnover to get the ball back, but Toledo wisely fouled Anderson with a 3-point lead so the sharpshooter couldn't launch a shot to try to tie the game. Anderson intended to hit the first free throw and miss the second, hoping for a rebound or foul, but his shot rimmed out and the game ended.

"That was a mental lapse on my part. I should have thought time and score and situation and realized that was coming," Anderson said. "In my head, I was going to let the clock run down and just take a shot at the end. Great coaching move to foul me. If you think about it now, you could see it coming. That's on me."

Toole absolved Anderson, saying that he didn't anticipate Toledo fouling the dangerous shooter. He assumed if the Rockets were going to foul, they'd foul a weaker free throw shooter.

"I thought if they were going to foul, they were going to foul Ant, to be honest," Toole said. "That's a pretty ballsy call by Coach Kowalczyk, because he's coming off ready to shoot that thing and all of a sudden it could be a 3-point foul attempt versus a foul on the ground."

Robert Morris is off for a week until it takes on crosstown rival Duquesne next Saturday.

"We fought hard," Jones said. "We just have to keep continuing to fight, keep pulling together, and just get stops. We can get a bucket every time at will. We've seen that through the first ten games we've played. We just have to get stops and get rebounds."


Robert Morris Schedule Toledo Schedule Back to previous page

Attendance: 804


Players Min FG 3P FT Rebounds PF A TO B S Pts
J. Brown 33 7-15 2-9 0-0 0 2 2 1 7 2 0 0 16
J. Drummond 31 4-8 2-5 6-6 1 1 2 2 3 2 1 1 16
R. Pearson 31 6-12 1-2 6-6 3 4 7 0 4 1 0 3 19
N. Boothe 29 3-6 0-0 0-0 2 2 4 4 2 1 0 0 6
J. Weatherspoon 27 3-3 0-0 4-6 1 3 4 1 0 2 1 1 10
J. Williams 18 2-6 1-5 3-4 0 1 1 2 2 3 0 0 8
J. Lauf 14 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 2
M. Smith 10 1-3 1-2 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
Z. Garber 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0
Team Rebounds
3

Totals
Shooting Pct.
200 27-54
50.0
7-23
30.4
19-22
86.4
11 17 31 13 18 11 2 6 80


Players Min FG 3P FT Rebounds PF A TO B S Pts
L. Jones 35 10-12 4-5 1-2 0 3 3 2 2 4 0 2 25
K. Anderson 34 9-11 5-6 0-1 0 4 4 2 1 1 0 0 23
M. McFadden 32 5-9 0-0 2-4 2 4 6 4 1 1 1 1 12
J. Worthem 29 3-6 0-0 0-0 1 4 5 2 4 2 0 2 6
A. Myers-Pate 25 2-6 0-0 1-3 1 1 2 2 7 2 0 0 5
K. Stewart 18 2-2 1-1 1-2 0 1 1 1 4 0 0 1 6
S. Hawkins 8 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 4 0 1 1 0 0
A. Tate 8 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
D. Appolon 6 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0
C. Oliver 3 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Newton 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Team Rebounds
1

Totals
Shooting Pct.
200 31-49
63.3
10-14
71.4
5-12
41.7
4 19 24 20 19 12 2 6 77

Officials: Larry Scirotto, Donnie Eppley, Tyler Ford



ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at achiappazzi@yahoo.com.



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