As his team was turning in one of its best shooting performance of the season in the first half, Robert Morris coach Andy Toole stood on the sideline with his arms folded and a callous look on his face.
The Colonials may have been excelling on the offensive end, but they were allowing one of the least efficient offenses in the Northeast Conference to nearly match it point for point.
For a coach that prides himself and his teams on their defensive prowess, it was an unacceptable showing in the game's early moments.
Ultimately, though, it was not enough to cost Robert Morris a late-season conference win against an overmatched opponent.
Just as they have for the last several weeks, forwards Russell Johnson and Lucky Jones paced the Colonials with 20 and 19 points, respectively, as the Colonials shot 53.2 percent in a 77-65 win over Monmouth Thursday night at the Charles Sewall Center.
With the victory, Robert Morris clinched a spot in the NEC tournament and assured itself of no worse than a fifth-place finish in the final conference standings.
The Colonials (19-9, 11-4 NEC) shot 55.6 percent in the first half, building a lead as big as 10 points. But the Hawks (10-18, 5-10) routinely found ways to stay close, largely through their own accurate shooting, as they made 52 percent of their field goal attempts in the game's first 20 minutes.
Robert Morris led for the entirety of the second half, but, much like it was earlier in the game, it was never able to build a comfortable advantage until the final minutes.
Guard Karvel Anderson, the team's leading scorer, helped the team put the Hawks away with 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions that turned a narrow edge into a 70-61 lead with 2:20 remaining. Anderson finished with 14 points.
For the second consecutive game, the Colonials were without senior guard Velton Jones, who was nursing a shoulder injury, an absence that was again exposed by a full-court press. Monmouth forced Robert Morris to turn the ball over 18 times.
The Hawks, who were playing without leading scorer Andrew Nicholas, had three players score in double figures, led by guard Jesse Steele's 16 points.
The Colonials return Saturday with their final home game of the regular season as they face Fairleigh Dickinson.mobilehome - breaking - rmusports
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @craig_a_meyer