In what could have been a moment to dwell on silver linings, members of the Robert Morris men's basketball team couldn't escape a fundamental truth.
Mired in a losing streak in which many aspects of the game would go wrong, so much seemed to go right for the Colonials in an 80-77 loss Saturday against Toledo at Sewall Center.
They made 63.3 percent of their field-goal attempts and 71.4 percent of their 3-pointers, both season highs. A team that has struggled mightily on the defensive end held the highest-scoring team in Division I to 12 points below its season average.
Still, the conversation always shifted back to one thing -- the final score.
"We gave up 80 and we lost," guard Karvel Anderson said. "Regardless of what they average, our defense gave up 80 points and we lost."
In what could have been a nightmare scenario for Robert Morris -- a slumping defense facing one of the best offenses in Division I -- the Colonials had one of their best performances of the young season.
But, it was one that ultimately added up to a defeat that extended the Robert Morris' losing streak to five games and dropped its record to 3-7.
"We did a lot of good things and we put ourselves in a position to win the game, but unfortunately, it always comes down to a handful of plays that either they make or you make," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said.
"In this case, they made some of those plays and in some cases, they got some really big assists from us to make those plays."
Anderson and forward Lucky Jones combined to make 19 of their 23 shots and 9 of 11 3-pointers. Not even three full days removed from scoring a career-high 24 points, Jones netted 25 while Anderson, the team's leading scorer, had 23.
Led by their star tandem, the Colonials never trailed by more than six points and were down only three with 25 seconds left.
After guard Anthony Myers-Pate was called for an offensive foul, the Robert Morris press forced a turnover, giving the Colonials a final opportunity with six seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
But instead of letting the Colonials get off a shot attempt, the Rockets (8-0) opted to foul a non-shooting Anderson with one second left, denying him the opportunity to tie the score with a single shot. Anderson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to end the game.
"In my head, I was just going to let the clock run down and take the shot," Anderson said. "It was a great coaching move. I take the blame because if you think about it, you could see it coming."
As it has been for much of the season, the Colonials failed to get much production from their bench. Starters accounted for 71 of the team's 77 points, and aside from six points from guard Kavon Stewart, the bench combined for no points in 27 minutes.
The loss marked the seventh consecutive time Robert Morris has allowed 80 or more points, but, by utilizing a schematic change to a zone defense, it held the Rockets to their second-lowest score of the season.
In a search for answers, Toole may have found one with a shift he said he might use going forward.
"I'm trying to figure out a way to try and be creative and hide some of our warts," he said. "That might be a way we have to do it with mixing up defenses and lineups."
Even in defeat, the game was a sign of progress for a team that has lost seven of its past eight. Players noted how they've seen signs of improvement.
Still, by the time the final buzzer blared, the end result was an all-too-familiar one.
"We fought hard," Jones said. "A couple of games ago, we were losing by double digits and our past two games, we lost by single digits.
"We just have to keep continuing to fight, continue to pull it together."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG. First Published December 8, 2013 12:02 AM