|Colonials Hang On For Constitution State Split|
Fairfield, Conn. - The Robert Morris University men's basketball team gained a split in its swing through the Constitution State Saturday afternoon by hanging on for a 68-63 victory over Sacred Heart at the William H. Pitt Center.
The Colonials improved to 18-9 overall and 10-4 in the Northeast Conference with the win, while the Pioneers dipped to 9-15 overall and 7-6 in league play.
Coupled with Bryant's loss at Wagner, RMU moved into a tie for first place in the NEC standings with LIU Brooklyn, with the Bulldogs a half game back.
Robert Morris owned a 64-48 advantage at the 3:49 mark of the second half after redshirt senior forward Russell Johnson (Chester, Pa. / Chester) converted a pair at the free-throw line, but the Pioneers used a 15-1 run to close within 65-63 with just 1:15 left in the contest.
Shane Gibson was the main offensive force during the surge for SHU, scoring 11 points over a two-minute span, including a trio of three-pointers. His third trifecta made it a one-possession game.
Junior guard Karvel Anderson (Elkhart, Ind. / Glen Oaks Community College) would fail to convert a jumper on RMU's next possession with 37 seconds to go, and Sacred Heart had two chances to tie or take the lead but couldn't convert.
Steve Glowiak missed a jumper, and after Louis Montes came up with the offensive rebound, sophomore forward Lucky Jones (Newark, N.J. / St. Anthony) came up with a steal and was immediately fouled.
Jones would go 1-for-2 at the stripe to give the Colonials a 66-63 edge with 9.6 seconds remaining, and on Sacred Heart's final possession junior guard Anthony Myers-Pate (Washington, D.C. / Charis Prep) fouled Phil Gaetano just inside the midcourt stripe.
Gaetano missed the first attempt, then purposely missed the second, but Johnson came down with the carom for Robert Morris. He was immediately fouled and sealed the win with a pair at the free-throw line with 3.8 seconds to go.
For the third straight game RMU jumped out to a big lead, opening up a 24-10 advantage at the 8:47 mark of the first half after a jumper from junior forward Mike McFadden (Newark, N.J. / Technology).
Sacred Heart responded with a 15-2 run to trim its deficit to 26-25, but the Colonials weathered the surge and eventually entered halftime with a 30-27 advantage.
Robert Morris eventually stretched its lead back into double digits in the second half as Anderson caught fire, scoring all of his team-high 13 points in the second half. His three-pointer with 7:55 left gave the Colonials a 54-41 edge, and Jones would give Robert Morris its biggest lead, 58-42, with a pair of free throws at the 6:06 mark of the second stanza.
Johnson helped the Colonials keep their advantage at 16 points with 3:49 to play after a pair of free throws before Sacred Heart made its final push.
Joining Anderson in double figures scoring for RMU were Myers-Pate, Jones and McFadden, who contributed 11, 10 and 10 points, respectively. Jones also grabbed seven rebounds and recorded three steals.
Gibson led all scorers in the contest with 17 points for Sacred Heart but struggled through a 6-for-16 shooting performance, including 3-for-8 from beyond the arc. Montes added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Pioneers, while Tevin Falzon supplied 11 points off the bench.
Robert Morris returns home to the Charles L. Sewall Center for its final two home games of the 2012-13 regular season, beginning with a 7:00 p.m. tip against Monmouth Thursday, Feb. 21.