Red Flash topped by Colonials
LORETTO – It was Greek Night at DeGol Arena on Thursday, with St. Francis University’s fraternities and sororities being recognized at halftime.
The Red Flash seemed to be right in the spirit of things with its men’s basketball version of the movie “300.”
The only difference was that the slaughter came in the beginning, Robert Morris 3-pointers raining down instead of Persian arrows.
Playing with two starters out with injuries, St. Francis fell behind by 16 at the half and 22 early in the second half and never could get the deficit back down to single digits before their largest home crowd in more than two years, 84-70.
The Flash dropped to 1-17 overall and 1-6 in the Northeast Conference. The loss felt like more of a step backward, though, because St. Francis seemed to be just a couple of possessions from winning in their last previous four defeats. This time, they trailed by double figures for the last 29:04 and never led.
“We have to do it in the first half. We can’t keep waiting until the second half to do things,” said St. Francis sophomore guard Dom Major, who scored all 11 of his points after the intermission. “Robert Morris came out hot, but it had a lot to do with us not being as aggressive as we needed to be. Give them credit for making certain shots, but our defense had to be more aggressive. We have to be more consistent with our defense, as well.”
Robert Morris (13-7, 5-2 NEC) took advantage. The Colonials shot 18-for-32 in the first half, making 10-of-21 beyond the arc en route to their 10th straight win over St. Francis.
The Colonials put on a clinic of ball movement in the first 20 minutes, penetrating and dishing or working the ball when the Flash turned to a zone defense to pile up 15 assists against just one turnover.
“We’ve been having great ball movement lately, so, the shots that we’re getting, they’re simple shots,” Colonial guard Karvel Anderson said. “They’re simple shots. They’re simple plays. And it just makes it that much easier to make.”
Anderson came off the bench to score 19 points in just seven minutes in the first half by converting 5-of-7 from behind the arc. Velton Jones, averaging 12.0 points coming in, had 11 in the first half.
“Robert Morris has four guys on the floor that can make plays and make shots. In the first half, we weren’t tough enough,” St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. “In the second half, we made a run. That doesn’t surprise me. These kids battle. But you can’t give a team like Robert Morris, with their experience and their talent, that kind of momentum. You can’t dig yourself that big of a hole.”
St. Francis was missing point guard Umar Shannon and forward Stephon Mosley with injuries. Shannon sat out his second straight game after hurting an ankle against Quinnipiac a week ago and was called “day-to-day” by Krimmel. A two-time NEC rookie of the week who’d scored in double figures in three straight outings, Mosley has a concussion.
“From a depth standpoint, and, obvious Umar’s experience,” Krimmel said when asked what the Flash were lacking from their absence.
Without Mosley around, Robert Morris was free to concentrate on Flash sophomore Earl Brown inside. Brown scored 11, but the Colonials snapped his double-double streak at seven by holding him to five rebounds.
“Coming into the game, he was a beast, averaging 14 and 16,” Jones said. “One of our [points of] emphasis was to try to contain him and keep him off the boards and not let him get going, and I think we did a good job of that.”
St. Francis whittled away at the lead in the second half, making 7-of-10 3-pointers itself. However, the Flash, despite several opportunities, never could get the difference to less than 10.
Ben Millaud-Meunier led the Flash with 22 points, reaching the 20-point mark for the second game in a row. Ronnie Drinnon, starting for Mosley, scored 12.
Senior Anthony Ervin, who led the team in minutes and averaged 11.2 points per game last year but hasn’t seen much time this season, provided a spark off the bench with 10 points and four rebounds in 13 minutes.
“I just wanted to help my team on the boards, really. Scoring will come,” Ervin said. “I have to be productive and keep building on. Coach Krimmel says with me it starts with practice. I have to come back with a clear mind and go back to work.”
Anderson led Robert Morris with 22 points, while Lucky Jones and Velton Jones had 16 and 15, respectively. Russell Johnson chipped in with 12 for the Colonials.
Colonials coach Andrew Toole said his team was told not to overlook St. Francis because of its record.
“You’ve got two overtime losses. They should have won the game at FDU in overtime, if they could have come up with a defensive rebound. They have a three-point loss, a five-point loss and a seven-point loss, so it’s not like they weren’t being competitive, it’s not like they weren’t dangerous,” Toole said. “I think once they get an understanding of defense a little bit more and a sense of urgency and a little bit of experience, they’re going to be a very good team. [Krimmel’s] playing a lot of young guys.”
Game notes: The crowd was St. Francis’ biggest since November of 2010. … The Flash wrap up a four-game homestand when they host Wagner on Saturday afternoon.
ROBERT MORRIS (13-7): Hawkins 4-6 0-0 8, Johnson 5-7 0-2 12, V. Jones 5-9 2-3 15, Williams 2-7 0-0 6, L. Jones 5-7 5-5 16, Appolon 0-2 0-0 0, Myers-Pate 1-5 0-0 2, Anderson 8-11 1-2 22, Armstrong 1-2 1-1 3. Totals 31-56 9-13 84.
ST. FRANCIS (1-17): E. Brown 3-5 5-7 11, Drinnon 6-11 0-0 12, Whyatt 1-2 0-2 2, Millaud-Meunier 7-12 2-3 22, Major 4-5 0-0 11, G. Brown 1-2 0-0 2, Jackson 0-2 0-0 0, Ervin 3-6 3-4 10. Totals 25-45 10-16 70.
Halftime-Robert Morris 47-31. 3-Point Goals-Robert Morris 13-27 (Anderson 5-7, V. Jones 3-6, Johnson 2-2, Williams 2-6, L. Jones 1-3, Appolon 0-1, Myers-Pate 0-2), St. Francis 10-18 (Millaud-Meunier 6-10, Major 3-4, Ervin 1-1, G. Brown 0-1, Jackson 0-2). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Robert Morris 24 (L. Jones 9), St. Francis 25 (E. Brown, Drinnon 5). Assists-Robert Morris 21 (V. Jones 6), St. Francis 14 (E. Brown, Major, Whyatt 4). Total Fouls-Robert Morris 14, St. Francis 15. A-1,411.