After months of anxiety and a week's worth of horror stories from scrimmages surrounding the NCAA's new foul rules, Robert Morris' exhibition game against California University of Pennsylvania, oddly enough, was like a normal college basketball game.
For the Colonials' sake, it was maybe a little too competitive.
Playing in its first home game since defeating Kentucky in the National Invitation Tournament in March, Robert Morris looked largely like a work in progress, needing a late surge to knock off the Vulcans, a Division II team that finished 12-15 last season, 64-58, Monday night at Sewall Center.
Entering the season with six new scholarship players, the exhibition proved to be a trial run for a group still getting accustomed to playing with one another.
"I'm thankful we were able to come out with the victory," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "This will be an invaluable amount of film we can watch and, hopefully, it will grab some guys' attention to what you have to do to be successful at the Division I level."
Forward Mike McFadden led all scorers with 18 points and made 7 of 9 field-goal attempts. Freshman guard Kavon Stewart and fellow newcomer Desjuan Newton each added 10 points.
Coming off an offseason in which the NCAA outlawed hand checks, among other measures, to free up offensive movement, Robert Morris committed only 13 fouls, well below its average of 19.6 per game from 2012-13.
Toole said his players admittedly pulled back a bit from pressuring the ball out of fear of getting whistled, something that might happen occasionally over the first month of play.
"We're going to just have to adjust to it," McFadden said.
After leading by six with nine minutes left, the Vulcans held a 58-57 advantage with 2:50 remaining before two free throws from forward Jeremiah Worthem gave the Colonials the lead on the following possession. California's Arman Marks missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining.
Stewart then made three free throws in the final 16 seconds to seal the win.
Led by Stewart, freshmen accounted for eight of the Colonials' final 10 points, a positive development for a team that will be called upon to come together quickly.
"With the game speed being a little faster, for the new guys and us, it's hard for us to talk about some of the stuff you don't know off the back of your hand," guard Anthony Myers-Pate said.
"All the little details, it's hard to talk about it if you don't know about it."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.