Terriers take nip out of Colonials
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In its win against Northeast Conference-leading Long Island Thursday night, Robert Morris played sharp, focused and disciplined basketball.
The Colonials did none of those things Saturday night and, as a result, followed up their biggest win of the season with an ugly, 81-68 home loss against St. Francis.
Robert Morris (16-7, 7-3 NEC) led, 31-30, at halftime, but was outscored, 51-37, in the second half. Sophomore Brent Jones of St. Francis (11-10, 8-2 NEC) torched the Colonials with 16 points in the final 20 minutes.
"Obviously, [we were] a lot different team than you saw on Thursday night," Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. "Same players, same people, without the focus, without the energy, without the passion, and that's what you get."
Despite struggling with their outside shooting, the Colonials were locked in a 44-44 tie with 11:28 left. From that point on, the Terriers ripped off a 10-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Jones, then extended their lead to a game-high 17 with 3:30 remaining.
Despite taking 22 more shots than St. Francis, the Colonials finished with two fewer field goals. Robert Morris shot 32.4 percent from the field, while the Terriers made 52.2 percent. Even more telling, the Colonials made 5 of 25 3-pointers, while St. Francis connected on 10 of 17 from long range.
"When we took the lead in the beginning of the second half, when we had momentum, we shared the ball and we threw the ball for wide-open layups," Toole said. "And then, because we like to make our lives as difficult as humanly possible, we figured, 'Let's try and do something harder and shoot on two guys."
Robert Morris' leading scorers, Velton Jones and Coron Williams, combined to make 10 of 40 from the field. Jones finished with 19 points, but looked frustrated in the second half as he frequently tried to draw contact in the lane, but got no foul calls. Toole said Jones was too eager to initiate contact and did not look to finish his layups.
"You can't just plow into people and then throw the ball in the air and get bailed out," Toole said. "You've got to go to score it."
Just as Toole feared after the win Thursday, the Colonials started the game sluggishly. They looked out of sync defensively and struggled to hit open shots from outside. St. Francis took its largest lead of the half when Travis Nichols made a 3-pointer with 7:36 left to put the Terriers up, 22-14.
The Colonials answered with a 10-2 run. Even though his outside shots were not falling, Jones did a good job getting to the rim for layups and led all scorers with 11 first-half points.
Even Robert Morris' 3-point shooting began to come around. After the Terriers took an eight-point lead, Anthony Myers and Williams answered with 3s on consecutive possessions. Still, the Colonials finished the first half just 2 for 11 from 3-point range.
The loss dropped Robert Morris into a tie with Central Connecticut State for fourth in the Northeast Conference. The Colonials are a game behind St. Francis and Wagner and two games behind first-place Long Island.
First Published January 29, 2012 12:00 am