Robert Morris gets off to a hot start in opener

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It was telling that Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole didn't call a timeout when Rider scored the first 10 points of the second half to cut its deficit to 10 and threaten to make a game of it.

"Players have got to make plays on the floor," he explained.

"Maybe some coaches would call a timeout. Basketball is a game of runs, and it was a great sign the way we responded. We scored the next six points and all of a sudden the wind went out of their sails."

Robert Morris blew away Rider, 83-57, Friday night at Sewall Center in the season opener for both teams.

It doesn't get any easier for Rider, which plays Sunday at Pitt.

Robert Morris was led by sophomore guard Coron Williams (28 points) and a trio of freshmen, 6-foot-5 Lucky Jones (six points, 13 rebounds), 6-2 Brandon Herman (11 points) and 6-7 Keith Armstrong (7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals). Lucky got his nickname from an aunt because he was sickly and spent the first year of his life in the hospital. "I'm just happy to be alive," he said.

The Colonials were thrilled the way he played in his collegiate debut.

"I was actually surprised what we did," said Williams, who averaged 7.1 points last season. "The freshmen coming in shows what we can do. I never knew [Jones] had it in him."

As for his performance that included 5-of-11 from 3-point territory, Williams said: "My role has changed from last year when I came off the bench to give the team a spark and score 10 or 12 points. That's not going to do it this year. I have to bring 18-20 points a game this year.

"I feel like I can keep it up every night. I'm not just a shooter; I'm a scorer."

Added Toole: "Can you have a quiet 28 points? He hit open shots. His teammates have so much confidence in his shooting ability. He shoots as well as anybody I've seen."

Toole certainly liked what he saw of the freshmen, whose practices had been inconsistent.

"I was concerned how they would respond, how they would react," he said. "The effort plays they made were over and above what I expected. I had hoped they wouldn't get exposed, but it turned around they were exposing Rider."

The Colonials certainly had a hand in the 25 turnovers committed by Rider, who had three starters back from a 23-11 team. The Broncos couldn't handle the pressure Robert Morris applied to their ballhandlers on the perimeter and never challenged after the Colonials went on a 13-0 spurt to take a 21-9 lead midway through the first half.

Rider didn't make a field in the final eight minutes of the half, scoring all eight of their points on free throws as the Colonials took a 40-20 lead into intermission.

"I never expected us to win by this much," Toole said. "Rider is a talented team."


Phil Axelrod: paxelrod@post-gazette.com .


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