When Robert Morris coach Andy Toole spoke earlier this week about everyone chipping in for a Northeast Conference tournament run, this likely was what he meant.
Four Colonials scored in double figures, and Robert Morris beat Monmouth, 87-68, Thursday night at Sewall Center to secure a spot in the NEC semifinals.
The Colonials will visit Wagner at noon Sunday. The Seahawks beat Central Connecticut State. The winner of the Sunday game will advance to the NEC championship game against Long Island or Quinnipiac.
Robert Morris (23-9) got production from the top of its roster -- Coron Williams scored 25 points and Velton Jones added 12 points and 10 assists -- to the bottom, as walk-on Treadwell Lewis banked in a late jumper for his first points of the season.
"From practice to now, everybody was into the game," Jones said. "Everybody was talking, communicating."
Robert Morris tied a school record with 16 3-pointers, sinking 16 of 29 from beyond the arc. Williams alone was a career-high 8 for 11 from long range.
The redshirt sophomore entered the game with a total of 10 points in the previous four contests. In the Colonials' 73-69 loss Saturday to Quinnipiac, he finished 0 for 5 and scoreless in 20 minutes.
"Having a doughnut in the points column, that kind of hit me hard," Williams said. "My coaches, my teammates were just telling me to stay aggressive."
Toole said he had Williams sit out most of practice this week to regain his energy. Williams only went through full practice for part of the team's session Wednesday. The move paid off early, as Williams hit his first 3-pointer 3:24 into the game and never looked back.
The Colonials jumped to an early, 11-1 lead when Jones hit 4-point plays on back-to-back possessions.
The Hawks (12-20) battled back to take a 17-16 lead midway through the first half. That was the last lead they would hold, though, as Robert Morris ripped off a 12-2 run to go ahead for good.
Freshman Lucky Jones scored 11 points in the final 2:19 to give the Colonials a 44-36 halftime lead. He made an old-fashioned 3-point play, back-to-back 3s and a thunderous dunk on the final four possessions of the half and finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in his first postseason game.
"I always try and go for defense first," Lucky said. "Once we got a couple of stops, I said, 'Let's see what my offense is looking like.' "
Monmouth coach King Rice said his team's defensive plan was to take away Velton Jones, who scored 46 points in the Colonials' two regular-season games again the Hawks, including 35 in the second one.
Monmouth kept Jones off the scoresheet for a long stretch -- after his eight early points, he didn't score again until 4:18 left in the game -- but the Hawks couldn't stop him from finding his open teammates, and he finished with his first career double-double.
"We thought we could slow down Velton a little bit to give us a better chance and everybody else on their team stepped up in a way that tells you they are a very, very, very good team," Rice said.
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published March 2, 2012 5:00 AM