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January 23, 2014
RMU dominates despite short bench
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Over the last seven years, Robert Morris has developed a penchant for responding best when its back is against the wall.
Thursday night against Sacred Heart, Robert Morris faced the most adversity it had seen all season. Already without Mike McFadden and Desjuan Newton as they sort out their basketball futures, Robert Morris took the court against the Pioneers with four more players missing. Freshmen Jeremiah Worthem and Britton Lee plus walk-ons Evan Grey and Shaire Tolson-Ford were absent for what head coach Andrew Toole called a violation of university policy. It left Robert Morris with just eight players in uniform.
Robert Morris trounced Sacred Heart 91-65, lifting its season record to 10-10 and improving their Northeast Conference record to 5-0.
"We actually found out in warm-ups and we couldn't worry about what we couldn't control," Anthony Myers-Pate said. "We had to stick together like family and step up like men and get the job done."
It could be considered Robert Morris' most complete performance of the season despite the Colonials having their least complete roster of the year. At the very least, it was their least dramatic win. Robert Morris had just two double-digit wins this season before Thursday, an 11-point triumph over Campbell in December and a 20-point thumping of Savannah State in the season opener.
"We challenged them a little before the game and said this was going to be a great test of the type of team we are," Toole said. "Everybody believes they can play. Now it's your opportunity to go out and show it."
The Colonials cruised early. Sacred Heart's only lead came on the first shot of the game. From there, Robert Morris built a double-digit lead that was only threatened briefly in the middle of the first half. The rest was all RMU. Six players finished in double figures, and by midway through the second half, Toole began rotating all eight available players heavily. Lucky Jones and Karvel Anderson took a seat with six minutes left in the game and did not return, while Myers-Pate joined them a few minutes later.
"Once we were able to build a lead, I think it's only smart to take Lucky, Ant and Karvel and give them a couple more minutes of rest," Toole said.
Jones led Robert Morris with 18 points and 11 rebounds, his second straight double-double. Anderson provided 15 points, Charles Oliver had 13, Stephan Hawkins had 12, Kavon Stewart had 11 and Myers-Pate had 11.
"That's the type of team this program has predicated itself on being. Last time was one of those nights," Anderson said. "I was glad everybody got a piece of it tonight
Robert Morris also had just five turnovers, and made just four 3-pointers, well below its usual pace.
"They just want you to shoot the three," Anderson said. "We tried not to live off of it and we felt like, one-on-one, when we wanted to attack they couldn't stay in front of us and we could get them in trouble attacking the basket."
Despite the win, the primary concern for Robert Morris is the availability of the rest of its bench as it prepares for Wagner on Saturday. Toole didn't provide details on the missing players, though he said Newton and McFadden's status is still unclear. As for the four suspended Thursday, Toole said he's still gathering information.
"You probably know as much as I do right now, to be honest. What I know is there is a violation of university policy," Toole said. "We're trying to sort the rest of it out from there."
Officials: Jim Bruno, Jeff Benedict, Ralph Bretz
ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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