Jones leads second-half comeback
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With the game on the line in the second half, Velton Jones did what he does best.
After a dismal first half, the redshirt junior scored 15 points in the second half to lead Robert Morris (8-3) past Louisiana-Lafayette, 72-64, in a non-conference game at the Sewall Center.
Even though he was in foul trouble all night, Jones put his head down and drove the lane when his team needed points after trailing 36-29 at halftime. Jones made 10 of 11 free throws in the second half to offset a somewhat disappointing 1-for-6 shooting night.
Jones picked up his third foul with 4:19 left in the first half and didn't re-enter the game until 5:01 into the second half.
When he returned, he immediately made a fade-away bank shot and a free throw to cut the Ragin' Cajuns' lead to 43-39. Jones scored the Colonials' next eight points.
"[When I was on the bench, I] just tried to get my head back in the game and win the game," Jones said. "Once I got the and-one it started to brighten up a little bit."
Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said the same qualities that made Jones force shots and make poor decisions in the first half allowed him to effectively take control of the game in the second.
"His will is part of what makes him great, it's also, at other times, what drives me insane," Toole said.
With Robert Morris trailing, 52-49, with 10:15 left, Coron Williams made a 3-pointer, and Lucky Jones followed that with a steal and layup to give the Colonials their first lead since there was 12:55 left in the first half.
The biggest differences in the first half were 3-pointers and points off turnovers. The Ragin' Cajuns (5-7) made 6 of 11 shots from outside the arc in the first half, compared to just 1 of 5 for Robert Morris. Louisiana-Lafayette also scored 15 points off 11 Colonial turnovers.
"[In the first half,] they were shooting well and our defense was terrible at the same time," Robert Morris sophomore Mike McFadden said. "We had to make adjustments. They kept hitting shots, but it wasn't like it was in the first half."
McFadden, a transfer from Iona, was excellent in his first competitive basketball game since March 2010. After sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, he started in place of injured forward Lijah Thompson.
It didn't take much time for McFadden to adjust. He scored the first three points of the game and led the Colonials with seven points in the first half, finishing with 13. He also grabbed six rebounds, including four offensive boards.
"That's what I was hoping for, what he did tonight," Toole said of McFadden. "But he was pretty good.
"One of the things that's good about Mike is, so far at least, he's been able to make pretty good adjustments on the fly."
McFadden also displayed his athletic ability, at one point getting a steal and running the fastbreak for a layup.
"The way he can rebound and outlet and still sprint the floor is a good thing for our team to get easy buckets," Jones said.
The Colonials return to action Tuesday night when they welcome Hampton to the Sewall Center.
First Published December 18, 2011 12:00 am