Colonials come alive in second half
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Four players scored in double figures for Robert Morris Tuesday night as the Colonials defeated Hampton, 64-54, at Sewall Center.
The win was the fifth in six games for the Colonials (9-3), who didn't get their ninth victory last season until Jan. 22.
As usual, Velton Jones led the way for Robert Morris with 18 points. Freshman Lucky Jones came within one rebound of his first career double-double with a career-high 16 points and nine rebounds. Mike McFadden chipped in 11 points and Coron Williams added 10.
"When you have multiple guys that can score and score in different ways it makes you that much more difficult to guard," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said.
The Colonials struggled against Hampton (4-8) down low in the first half, with Pirates forward David Bruce dominating the game.
In the opening 20 minutes, Hampton, of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, grabbed 21 rebounds to Robert Morris' 11. The Pirates had nine offensive boards, and Bruce had a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) before halftime.
The Colonials were buoyed by a 5-of-9 3-point shooting performance in the first half, with Velton Jones making three shots from behind the arc. They led, 31-28, at halftime.
In the second half, Robert Morris began attacking Hampton's zone with some of its man-to-man offensive plays. While the offense appeared stagnant in the first half, the Colonials attacked the Pirates with a much greater sense of purpose after the break.
"We weren't moving at all, so we had to go to our man plays, just to get movement and keep them on their heels," Williams said. "I think that really worked because our guards got into the lane."
The Colonials also played more zone defense in the second half, which noticeably sparked their performance on the glass. After the break, Robert Morris outrebounded Hampton, 22-14, and held Bruce to five points and three rebounds.
"Once we started to have success with it, it just made sense to stick with it," Toole said. "That was probably more zone in one game than we've played in my five years here combined."
Robert Morris also limited the Pirates from beyond the arc. Hampton shot just 4 of 30 from 3-point range, and leading scorer Darrion Pellum scored just 11 points in 34 minutes. Pellum made just one of his seven 3-point attempts.
The Colonials played most of the game without redshirt junior forward Russell Johnson, who went down when Bruce hit him with an elbow with 6:59 left in the first half. Toole said after the game that Johnson broke his nose, and should be able to return for the Colonials' next game Thursday against Youngstown State.
Playing without Johnson and forward Lijah Thompson, who is out with a foot injury, the Colonials still won fairly comfortably against a Hampton team that made the NCAA tournament last season.
"There were a number of reasons we could have said, 'Hey, it's not our night,'" Toole said.
"I mean it gives me hope that eventually if we can get everyone healthy and on the same page that we can be a really good team."
First Published December 21, 2011 12:00 am