LORETTO, Pa. -- In the immediate midst of a win streak, the barriers that prevent a team from staying focused and motivated become greater, a concept that have been repeatedly stressed to the Robert Morris men's basketball team over the last few weeks.
For the Colonials, the challenge became even greater Thursday night: could it manage to maintain its current torrid pace against a team that has won just once in its last 19 games and was playing without its leading scorer?
Consider it a test passed.
Robert Morris took control of the contest early and never really relinquished it, defeating Saint Francis, 84-70, at DeGol Arena in a game in which it never trailed.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Colonials, with all of those victories coming against Northeast Conference opponents.
Guard Karvel Anderson scored a team-high 22 points in what was one of the better performances from a player that is already arguably 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.
Behind Velton Jones, Robert Morris was able to race out to a quick lead, as Jones scored 11 points not even five minutes into the game, helping give the Colonials (13-7, 5-2 NEC) a 17-7 lead.
The proverbial hot hand was then passed among teammates, with Anderson leading the way this time around. The junior college transfer scored 19 points in a roughly five-minute stretch late in the first half, going a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, all while extending the Robert Morris lead to 39-20 with 4:48 remaining in the period.
After facing a 47-31 halftime deficit, the Red Flash (1-17, 1-6) would manage 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 and not let its advantage evaporate any further.
Saint Francis was without injured guard Umar Shannon, who is averaging a team-best 13.4 points per game. In Shannon's absence, guard Ben Millaud-Meunier led Saint Francis, which had five players score in double figures, with 22 points.
The Colonials played without forward Mike McFadden, who was out with tendinitis in his hip and knee, which gave freshman Stephan Hawkins his second career start.
Robert Morris returns home to the Charles L. Sewall Center Saturday to play Mount St. Mary's.
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @craig_a_meyer