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Robert Morris First to 10 in NEC With Victory Over St. Francis (PA), 66-60

In the only Northeast Conference game played in yesterday's nasty weather, the Robert Morris Colonials (15-11, 10-1) became the first team to reach 10 wins in the conference after defeating the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash (7-17, 5-6).

Paul Vladuchick

The St. Francis (PA) Red Flash came into the game having won four of their last five games.  Despite their 73-68 victory over St. Francis last month, Andy Toole, head coach of the Robert Morris Colonials, told ESPN 970 after the game that he knew his team would be in for a fight, "Yeah, this is conference basketball in February."

Robert Morris never trailed in the game, but SFU kept it close.  RMU opened the game on a 12-5 run, led by two straight makes from beyond the arc by junior guard/forward Lucky Jones to open the game.  Back-to-back triples by the Red Flash brought them within one point of the Colonials less than a minute later.

Neither team was able to create any separation over the rest of the first half.  Senior guard Karvel Anderson drilled a triple with under a minute left in the half, which gave Robert Morris a six-point advantage.  However, a layup by guard Greg Brown of St. Francis with just nine seconds left, cut the RMU lead to four as both teams to the locker rooms, 33-29.

Anderson had 15 points in the first half; no other player for the Colonials had more than six.

Junior forward Earl Brown had just seven points for SFU at the half, but they were able to hang with Robert Morris thanks to their offensive execution.

Toole had this to say about the Red Flash offensive game plan, "They do some nice things against the zone, they make the game shorter with the length of possessions they have."

RMU tried to pull away early in the second half.  A jumper by sophomore forward Stephan Hawkins increased their lead to seven points at the 16:41 mark.  A layup by junior guard David Appolon a few minutes later, gave the Colonials a 47-39 lead at the under-12 media timeout.

Again, St. Francis stormed back: a 12-4 run, capped-off by a Brown layup at the 5:12 mark tied the game at 51.  However, they never got closer than that.  They tried extending the game by sending Robert Morris to the charity stripe.  RMU never flinched; they were a perfect 8-8 in the last four minutes of the game.

Anderson hit two daggers down the stretch that allowed the Colonials to maintain a five-point lead.  It was a hard-fought battle by both teams, but in the end, Robert Morris prevailed, 66-60.

Karvel led RMU with 28 points on 11-17 from the floor; he also had a career-high four steals.  Jones added 12 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Brown scored a team-high 17 points on 7-12 from the field for SFU, and was a load in the paint.  He also led the team with seven rebounds, and a game-high three blocks.  Toole was very complimentary of Brown after the game, "Earl is obviously a handful down there."

When asked if the Colonials tried to recruit Brown, given that he and Appolon were high school teammates, Toole said they were involved early in the process.  When nudged about whether or not they would like to have him in a Robert Morris uniform, Toole joked, "Sorry coach Krimmel, we’d love to have him."

Toole credited the team’s defense as to why they prevailed on the road.  He said, "We played defense for about a minute and half at about the 4 minute mark, and we stayed strong during that stretch and I think that’s why we won the game."  He went on to say, "When it was time to get stops, I think our guys stepped up."

Toole was happy with the energy his team brought in the second half, and felt that everyone contributed in their victory, "Everybody, again, that stepped on the floor contributed, and that’s the way it’s got to be."

RMU will host Mount St. Mary’s (10-13, 6-4) tomorrow night.  It’s the start of three consecutive home games for them.  The Red Flash will travel to New Jersey to play the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (8-16, 4-6) on Saturday.