College basketball teams that excel in outside shooting know this adage well: "You live by the 3 and you die by the 3."
This season, Robert Morris mostly has been living it up when it centers its game plan around the 3-point shot.
It sure has helped the Colonials (23-9) win the Northeast Conference regular-season title and a spot in the NEC tournament semifinals this afternoon at Sewall Center against Mount St. Mary's.
Three Colonials -- guards Karvel Anderson and Coron Williams, and forward Lucky Jones -- have made more than 40 percent of their 3-pointers. Two others -- guard Velton Jones and forward Russell Johnson -- are shooting above the Division I average of 33.9 percent.
Robert Morris (23-9) vs. Mount St. Mary's (17-13), 2:30 p.m. today, Sewall Center.
- TV, Radio, Internet:
FCS Central, ESPN3, WPIT-AM (730), rmucolonials.com.
- Robert Morris:
Coming off 75-57 victory vs. St. Francis Brooklyn. ... Has matched season-high six-game win streak. ... Beat Mount St. Mary's, 76-68, Jan. 26 in only meeting this season. G Karvel Anderson had 22 points, while making 7 of 11 field-goal attempts.
- Mount St. Mary's:
Coming off 75-69 win at Bryant. ??? Is No. 5 seed in the NEC tournament. ... Has won eight consecutive games and 10 of its past 11. ... Has four players averaging better than nine points per game, led by G Rashad Whack???s 13.6 points per game. ... Coach Jamion Christian is in first season.
- Hidden stat:
Mount St. Mary's is 16th in Division I in defensive turnover percentage, forcing turnovers on 24.4 percent of opponents??? possessions.
Among players that average at least five points per game, no NEC team has as many players that shoot at least 35 percent on 3-pointers.
"The multiple guys we have who can shoot the 3 is pretty amazing," Johnson said. "You probably rarely find as many guys that we have on the team that can do that."
In its most recent win, Robert Morris showed how effective its strategy has been, making 11 3-pointers en route to a 75-57 victory against St. Francis Brooklyn. The Colonials have made at least 10 3-pointers in each of their past five games while making 40 percent from 3-point range.
More remarkable than the Colonials' ability to make long-range shots has been how much they have relied on them.
Heading into today's game, 36.5 percent of the team's points have come from 3-pointers, the 13th-highest mark among 347 Division I teams. Furthermore, 41.5 percent of Robert Morris' field-goal attempts have come from behind the arc.
Against Mount St. Mary's, the Colonials may have something of a dream matchup statistically. The Mountaineers (17-13) have allowed opponents to shoot 39.3 percent from 3-point range, the fifth-worst mark among Division I teams.
Part of that can be attributed to the unrelenting full-court press Mount St. Mary's uses. It's a frantic style that has helped the Mountaineers win eight consecutive games, one that's meant to wear down even the most-skilled teams.
"It tires you out mentally as well as physically," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "When they need to take advantage or you start to break down, they turn it up even more, and that's when they have their success."
But, it's a strategy that the Colonials believe plays right into their hands, opening up the court for their many capable shooters.
"The way they press is all over the place," Johnson said. "With the way we've been moving the ball lately, I doubt they'll be able to recover from it."
Craig Meyer: email@example.com and Twitter: @craig_a_meyer.