Colonials step up in NEC standings

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Winning a basketball game and doing so in aesthetically pleasing fashion are not always mutually exclusive concepts.

It was a reality on display Wednesday night at Sewall Center, but thankfully for the Robert Morris men's basketball team, it was able to reap the rewards of victory even though it was far from full strength.

Playing largely with makeshift lineups as a result of being down two of its usual starters, the Colonials followed up arguably their biggest win of the season Saturday at LIU Brooklyn with a 60-48 Northeast Conference victory against Saint Francis.

The win moved Robert Morris within a half-game of first place in the NEC standings.

"I thought it was a very well-earned win," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "I was excited by the way the team worked together and carried out our game plan and continued to try to figure things out on the fly as we kind of had to adjust to certain things at times. I'm proud of them for that."

The Colonials (16-8, 8-3) rebounded from a rough first half in which they scored just 25 points on 8-of-24 shooting to get 35 points on 45 percent shooting in the second half, allowing them to ultimately win by a comfortable margin.

Forward Lucky Jones scored a career-high 20 points, many of which came from his 13-of-13 performance at the free-throw line, with guard Karvel Anderson adding 17 points. Robert Morris never trailed.

The victory, however, did not come without some sort of loss.

Junior forward Mike McFadden was not at the game for personal reasons, leaving an already-thin Colonials frontcourt without one of its biggest contributors. McFadden's absence leaves the team with just two players that are listed at 6 feet 7 or taller.

"He's a valued member of the team," Toole said of McFadden. "He just had some personal things that he needed to take care of and figure out. We look forward to having him back."

Furthermore, guard Velton Jones, the team's second-leading scorer, sat out the game with a shoulder injury, leaving junior guard Anthony Myers-Pate as the team's primary ballhandler. Myers-Pate responded by scoring seven points and dishing out three assists in 23 minutes.

Without those two players, Robert Morris had to resort to several unorthodox lineups that had some players in different positions. Overall, it was a change that was not too difficult to overcome.

"It's different, but I've done it before in my career and I feel comfortable handling the ball," Anderson said. "I know the offense, so I feel like I can handle it.

"It's not really a big difference. We just have to have somebody to keep controlling the offense and we have multiple guards who can do that."

With the loss, the Red Flash (2-20, 2-9) has not beaten Robert Morris since Dec. 8, 2007, a span of 11 games. Guard Umar Shannon led Saint Francis with 12 points.

The Colonials return Saturday with a game against Wagner, which trails them by one game in the conference standings. With the uncertain status of Jones' and McFadden's respective returns, the team knows that they will have to keep handling whatever obstacles come its way.

"[Coach] just had a talk with us talking about adversity and how we're going to have to face adversity every day," Myers-Pate said. "We just have to overcome it -- that's life. ... If someone's missing, the next man has to step up."

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Craig Meyer: and Twitter: @craig_a_meyer. First Published February 7, 2013 5:15 AM


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