Colonials pass test with 5th win in row

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LORETTO, Pa. -- For Robert Morris, the challenge Thursday night was could it manage to maintain its torrid pace against a team that had won one of its past 19 games and was without its leading scorer?

Consider it a test passed.

Robert Morris took control early and never relinquished it while beating Saint Francis, 84-70, at DeGol Arena.

The Colonials never trailed.

"When you give a team like Robert Morris that kind of momentum with their experience and their kind of talent, you can't dig yourself that deep of a hole," Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel said.

The win was the fifth in a row for the Colonials, with all those victories coming against Northeast Conference opponents.

Guard Karvel Anderson scored a team-high 22 points in what was one of the best performances this season from a player already considered by many as the team's best outside shooter.

Guard Velton Jones added 15 points and a game-high six assists.

Forwards Lucky Jones (16 points) and Russell Johnson (12) also scored in double figures, and Lucky Jones pulled in nine rebounds.

Velton Jones scored 11 points before the game was five minutes old, boosting the Colonials (13-7, 5-2 NEC) to a 17-7 lead.

The next hot hand belonged to Anderson. The junior-college transfer scored 19 points in a roughly five-minute stretch late in the first half, going 7 of 7 from the field as Robert Morris extended its lead to 39-20 with 4:48 left in the half.

"I've put up so many shots in my lifetime that, whether I make or miss, I always feel like the next shot's going to go in," Anderson said. "That always helps, but actually seeing the ball go in makes it a lot easier."

After facing a 47-31 halftime deficit, the Red Flash (1-17, 1-6) managed to cut the Colonials' lead to as few as 10 points late in the second half, but Robert Morris was able to limit the damage.

It was, however, the second consecutive game in which the defensive-oriented Colonials have allowed their opponent to shoot at least 55 percent from the field.

"We spend so much more time on our defense it's mind-boggling, and so some of those breakdowns are almost inexcusable," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said.

"It's a mental focus thing, it's really what it is -- a mental focus and a detail thing. I don't think we could say defensively we gave a poor effort, but it's just that we're not as detailed as you need to be."

Saint Francis was without injured guard Umar Shannon, averaging a team-high 13.4 points per game. In Shannon's absence, guard Ben Millaud-Meunier led Saint Francis with 22 points.

Four other players, also reached double figures.

The Colonials played without forward Mike McFadden (tendinitis in his hip and knee). In his absence, freshman Stephan Hawkins made second start.

Even though the victory helped Robert Morris match its season-high five-game win streak, players and coaches know that there is still more work to be done.

"We didn't play as well as we thought we could," Velton Jones said.

"Our defense was terrible, but we actually made some shots, and that's what helped us win the game.

"If we didn't make shots, I don't think we would have come out of here with a victory."

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


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