Bryant fends off Robert Morris in NEC opener, 84-77
Robert Morris' Velton Jones, right, drives to the net against Bryant's Joe O'Shea in the first half Thursday night at the Sewall Center. Bryant won, 84-77.
Robert Morris' Anthony Myers-Pate, left, is defended by Bryant's Dyami Starks in the first half Thursday night.
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It seemed Robert Morris was playing catch-up all night. But no matter how feverish the pace, Dyami Starks was always keeping Bryant far enough in front.
Starks scored 29 points and made seven 3-pointers as Bryant beat Robert Morris, 84-77, Thursday night at the Sewall Center.
"We didn't play a great team defense tonight," said Robert Morris guard Karvel Anderson.
"He's a Division I basketball player. You get those kind of looks, you're supposed to knock them down. He had a few that were just wide open."
It was the sixth game this season in which Starks has scored more than 20 points. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 52.0 percent from the field.
Frankie Dobbs added 26 points for the Bulldogs, including eight off free throws in the final three minutes to help stave off a furious Robert Morris rally.
Velton Jones led the Colonials with 24 points, and two others added 13.
Robert Morris coach Andy Toole criticized his team after the game for a lack of consistency and leadership.
"Some of the guys that are supposed to be leading us, supposed to be setting a tone, providing an example for the way that we've played basketball at Robert Morris for the past six years are not doing that," Toole said.
The Colonials had a couple late-game runs foiled by Starks, who seemingly always had an answer for the Colonials.
After Anderson's 3-pointer cut Bryant's lead to two points with less than four minutes remaining,
Starks drained 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions as the Bulldogs pulled away, and that was as close as the Colonials would come for the remainder of the game.
Also hurting the Colonials' comeback chances: Bryant was 24 of 27 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Bryant, which started Division I play in 2008, posted two noteworthy upsets earlier this season with wins at Boston College and Lehigh, one of the top mid-major teams in the country this season.
The win was the Bulldogs' first in six games against Robert Morris.
Anthony Myers-Pate sparked a Robert Morris comeback midway through the second half. With his team trailing by double digits, Myers-Pate picked off a Bryant pass and drew a foul on the other end.
He sank two free throws, the first two points in a 10-0 run that tied the score.
Anderson made two 3-pointers in the Robert Morris run, including one that tied the score with 8:31 remaining. During the run, the Colonials forced two turnovers and blocked two shots.
Dobbs gave the Bulldogs a 10-point lead with 11:18 remaining, when he hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 51-41. At the time, the 10-point deficit was the largest of the game for Robert Morris.
Robert Morris was cold to start the second half, missing five of its first six seven field-goal attempts as the Bulldogs took a 46-38 lead with 13:00 remaining.
Bryant led, 33-32, at halftime and enjoyed a marginal advantage for most of the first half.
The Bulldogs shot just 37.0 percent from the field in the first half, compared to the Colonials' 42.4 percent. But the Bulldogs were potent from 3-point range, which is how they controlled the first 20 minutes.
Dobbs led all scorers with 15 first-half points while Robert Morris center Mike McFadden led the Colonials with nine.
Playing for the first time in two weeks, the Colonials were far from crisp for the first 10 minutes. They overpursued on defense and clanked open 3-pointers and missed point-blank layups.
Bryant capitalized, climbing to an early, 14-7 lead.
First Published January 4, 2013 12:00 am