Colonials run to win

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College basketball is a game of runs, with things often evening out. One team will go on a scoring burst and take what seems like a commanding lead, only to see its opponent work its way back into the game.

For the Robert Morris Saturday, all it took was one early run to seize control.

The Colonials went on a 25-8 run early in the first half, a scoring streak that proved to be the difference, as they defeated Quinnipiac, 87-75, in a Northeast Conference game at Sewall Center.

A separate 16-6 run to open the second half helped pad what already was a comfortable lead for the Colonials (12-7, 4-2). Once Robert Morris' first-half run ended, the Bobcats (6-12, 2-4) were not able to cut the deficit any lower than nine the remainder of the game.

"Overall, it was another good weekend for us," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "I thought Thursday night's win was a terrific gut-check win, if you want to go with a cliché, and then I thought [Saturday night] was another great team effort where we had multiple guys step up, make plays and contribute."

Forward Russell Johnson led the way for the Colonials with a season-high 22 points, his highest total since he notched 22 against LIU-Brooklyn Mar. 9, 2011.

Guards Velton Jones and Karvel Anderson, the Colonials' two leading scorers, were back after sitting out the previous game with injuries. Jones had 14 points and Anderson added 9.

"It felt good," Jones said. "You never like to sit out, and Thursday was my first day sitting out. It felt good to actually get back on the court and be able to help my team."

Jones went down after a collision going for a rebound late in the first half and had to be helped off the court, but returned to play a majority of the second half.

Perhaps most significantly, the game showed further signs of progress from forward Lucky Jones, who scored 18 points. Since being forced to sit out Jan. 10 at Fairleigh Dickinson, Jones has averaged 17 points per game.

"It was a wake-up call," Jones said. "Once your teammates tell you that you need to come out of your slump and come help us, it was just a big light bulb in my head."

Quinnipiac shot well, but struggled with turnovers. The Bobcats turned it over 17 times, with the Colonials getting 21 points off those miscues.

The win was the fourth in a row for Robert Morris, a stretch that has come on the heels of a season-high three-game losing streak.

Toole repeatedly stressed the importance of metaphorical "day-to-day contracts" he signed with his team in an effort to keep them engaged, consistent and focused. For a team that has followed runs of success with bouts of poor play, it's a mantra he will continue to push as his team looks to keep winning.

"It's a group, sometimes, that's a little frustrating, and a group that's a bit inconsistent," Toole said. "That's been our M.O. all year. Now the question is, can we maintain that? Can we stay humble, stay hungry and prepare ourselves each and every day for whoever our next opponent is?"

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Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com or Twitter: @craig_a_meyer.


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