Robert Morris defense fails test in loss to Quinnipiac
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Over the past five years, the driving force behind Robert Morris' success has been the ability to shut down opposing offenses.
At some point during the halftime break Thursday, that defensive intensity got lost. The Colonials allowed Quinnipiac to score 51 points in the second half, and the Bobcats left the Sewall Center with a 78-76 Northeast Conference win.
Robert Morris (12-6, 3-2 NEC) held an eight-point lead at halftime, and, after closing the first half on a 15-2 run, looked poised to bounce back after an ugly loss Saturday at Central Connecticut State. Instead, the Bobcats shot 66.7 percent in the closing 20 minutes and went 4 for 4 from 3-point range. Overall, they shot 58.5 percent and 70 percent from long range.
"It's disappointing that we just don't have a whole lot of enthusiasm right now," Colonials coach Andy Toole said. "I don't know why. I thought there would be a little more excitement to play the game.
For the second game in a row, Velton Jones was held scoreless in the first half. The redshirt junior was 0 for 8 from the field in the opening 20 minutes and didn't make his first shot until 7:18 into the second half. Jones finished with 22 points, with 10 coming from the free-throw line.
"I just wanted to try and stay aggressive and do whatever it took to get our team a win," Jones said. "It wasn't enough, but, in the second half, I was just [thinking] be aggressive and take open shots they were giving me."
With Jones struggling, the rest of the Colonials chipped in. Mike McFadden, Anthony Myers, Lijah Thompson and Lucky Jones all scored in double figures.
Even though Velton Jones wasn't scoring, he made some key plays in the first half, from finding open teammates to taking charges. It was a contrast to Saturday, when he struggled in the first half and the Colonials trailed, 32-28, at halftime.
"[In the] Central game, I got too frustrated and let a lot of things get to me and hurt our team," Jones said. "Today, even though I was missing shots I was still trying to play defense, make passes and make winning plays."
James Johnson finished with 22 points for the Bobcats, making 4 of 6 from 3-point range. He made long 3-pointers on consecutive possessions with a little more than five minutes remaining to extend Quinnipiac's lead to 60-52.
"Really proud of a couple of things my guys did tonight," Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore said. "I thought our offensive poise in the second half was really good against the best defensive team in our league."
Toole said he was disappointed with his team's intensity on defense after halftime. Robert Morris entered the game giving up just 60.6 points per game and had given up 70 just twice this season.
"We've got to defend better," Toole said. "If we score 76 points and lose the game, shame on us."
Quinnipiac outrebounded Robert Morris, 16-8, in the second half. The Colonials had 10 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes, one after the break. The Colonials had no second-chance points in the second half after 11 in the first. Quinnipiac entered the game as the No. 2 rebounding team in the country (45.3 per game). They lead the nation with 17.7 offensive rebounds per game, but managed just five Thursday.
First Published January 13, 2012 12:00 am