In a season riddled with inconsistency and missed opportunities, Thursday night had a familiar feel to it for Robert Morris.
What was once a comfortable 11-point lead against Saint Francis turned into an 11-point deficit with only a few minutes left. What was once a team brimming with confidence soon became one that seemingly couldn't score.
But in an up-and-down contest, it was the Colonials who made a decisive final surge.
Trailing by 11 with just over four minutes remaining, Robert Morris finished the game on a 19-3 run to defeat the Red Flash, 73-68, at Sewall Center.
The victory gave the Colonials (8-10, 3-0 Northeast Conference) a season-high three-game win streak and marked their 12th consecutive win against Saint Francis.
Thursday's victory may not have resembled the ones of recent seasons, but by the end, it read like a collective exhale. And, most importantly, it was just enough to continue a promising start to conference play.
"I'm thankful to have won the game," coach Andy Toole said. "That's the best way to describe it, as being thankful."
For much of the game, it didn't appear there would be any late drama. The Colonials built a 12-point halftime lead and had an 11-point advantage with about 11 minutes left.
From there, however, it began to fall apart.
In a six-minute period, Saint Francis went on a 26-4 run, one in which the Red Flash (3-12, 1-2) made 5 of 6 3-point attempts while the Colonials were held to just one field goal. That scoring blitz gave the Red Flash a 65-54 lead with 4:20 remaining.
"We kind of let our foot off the gas a little bit," Colonials guard Karvel Anderson said. "We stopped respecting our opponent and it gave them life. And we got desperate when we were down.
"We definitely didn't want to lose at home and we feel like we have a lot of confidence right now. This was one of those games that we would have regretted for a long time if we had lost."
But soon enough, it was Robert Morris' turn to change the complexion of the game -- this time for good.
Buoyed by five points from Lucky Jones, the Colonials went on a 13-1 run to take a one-point lead with 1:36 left. It was one that held for the remainder of the game, with freshman Jeremiah Worthem's two free throws in the final five seconds sealing the win.
In what could have been a moment of panic, Robert Morris found a groove at an all-too-critical time.
"Once one person's going, everyone's going," Jones said. "That's what gave us the lead tonight."
Anderson led all scorers with 24 points, while Jones and Worthem each added 12.
For Toole, he hopes lessons will be learned from such a chaotic win.
"For them to be able to figure out a way to rally and get back into it and obviously end up winning the game, it's something we've got to end up using as a positive," he said. "Hopefully we're mature enough to learn from a win in the way that you prepare yourself and the way you sustain your effort through the course of a game, but we'll figure out if that's true going forward."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.
First Published January 16, 2014 9:20 PM