After Robert Morris' NCAA tournament hopes were dashed unexpectedly Saturday afternoon by Mount St. Mary's, senior guard Velton Jones was asked what didn't go right for him in the game.
With his head down, Jones, who finished with nine points on 2-of-17 shooting, raised his hands in the air.
"I can't even tell you," he said. "I don't know. I just couldn't make a shot."
The Colonials never found their shooting touch in a game where almost nothing seemed to go right. With a tenacious half-court, man-to-man defense that complemented its full-court pressure, Mount St. Mary's upset Robert Morris, 69-60, in the Northeast Conference tournament semifinals at Sewall Center.
After utilizing a blueprint that worked so well for the past two months -- namely, a variety of players making a high percentage of 3-pointers -- the Colonials (23-10) saw that game plan fall flat against the Mountaineers (18-13).
Entering the game among the top 25 3-point shooting teams in Division I, Robert Morris missed 19 of its 24 attempts from beyond the arc and shot 34.4 percent from the field. Its top five 3-point shooters, each of whom were averaging better than 35 percent, made just two of their 16 3-point attempts.
As shooters struggled to get the open looks they had been receiving for months, their impatience grew and grew.
"We played right into their hands," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "We played into their style and their system."
Mount St. Mary's shot 47.1 percent from 3-point range, led by guard Rashad Whack, who had a game-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He also made four of his five 3-point attempts.
The victory was the ninth in a row for the Mountaineers and their 11th in the past 12 games.
"Our guys just did an unbelievable job," Mount St. Mary's coach Jamion Christian said of his team's defense. "We had two days of great preparation, a lot of it mental. They did a great job understanding what they needed to do in order to defend."
Robert Morris led, 15-12, over eight minutes into the game, but Mount St. Mary's responded with a 14-4 run. The Colonials did not lead again and saw the Mountaineers' lead reach 20 points in the second half.
Trailing, 56-38, with less than five minutes remaining, Robert Morris went on a 13-2 run, but the Colonials never pulled closer than six points. Guard Anthony Myers-Pate scored a season-high 15 points for the Colonials.
By virtue of its regular-season conference title, Robert Morris will play in the National Invitation Tournament against a to-be-determined opponent.
But the alternative ending will not be an easy one to accept.
"It's difficult as a coach to prepare your own self, let alone your team, for something less than your goal was," Toole said.
"It's going to take a couple of days and it's going to take some deep breaths to be able to come back."
Other NEC game
• Long Island Brooklyn 94, Wagner 82: C.J. Garner scored 23 points, Jamal Olasewere scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and four teammates scored in double figures to lead host Long Island Brooklyn (19-13) past Wagner (19-12) in the other semifinal. It was Olasewere's third double-double in the past four games, and he became the Blackbirds' all-time points leader (1,836).
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @craig_a_meyer. First Published March 10, 2013 5:00 AM