Thursday, March 7, 2013

RMU defeats St. Francis and elsewhere around the NEC

Last night, the Robert Morris Colonials avenged a January loss to St. Francis (Brooklyn) and sent them packing with a 75-57 defeat in the first round of the NEC playoffs. If you weren't fortunate enough to catch last night's game, just think of what January's game looked like against the Terriers and it was the opposite of that.

Robert Morris fans came out to support Russell Johnson and
the Colonials (Photo credit: Justin Berl).
Russell Johnson set the tone early by canning a three and a few more mid-range J's en route to 12 first half points and 19 overall. Robert Morris came sprinting out of the gates early and really never looked back. St. Francis made a nice run to bring it within four at the under twelve media timeout but that was as close as they would get. Velton Jones effectively broke the press the few times St. Francis went to it and dished out eight assists. Velton did an excellent job not forcing shots (he only had three points on 1-4 shooting) and finding the open man.

RMU had just a really solid all-around game. They canned eleven three's, controlled the boards, played solid defense, and had outstanding ball movement. I was impressed with the colonial "big's" of Mike McFadden, Russell Johnson, and Lucky Jones. They did a great job battling with Jalen Cannon, who is the Terriers best player. Johnson had probably the best all-around game with 19 points (on a very efficient 7-12 shooting), seven rebounds, five steals, and two assists.

Finally, what else can you say about Karvel Anderson? I mean, the guy is playing with a broken wrist and has stepped up in every big game this season. He led the team with 20 points and put the nail in the coffin with his own 8-0 run late in the second half. There is no one who can shoot like him in the NEC.

Hat tip to the RMU crazies, who showed up in full force, stood (!), and made noise the whole game. As always, we encourage all students to stay that extra night so you can attend the semifinal match-up, which will be broadcasted on FSN and MSG among other networks.

Around the NEC: I was not surprised with any of the outcomes in the first round of the quarterfinals. Quinnipiac gave LIU a scare (again) but couldn't seal the deal in the second half (again) and lost by a score of 91-83. The refs were whistle happy in the game; Ike Azotam, Zaid Hearst, Dave Johnson, and Ousmane Drame all fouled out for the Bobcats (their four best players, by the way) and Jamal Olasewere fouled out for LIU. Olasewere, the NEC player of the year, didn't have the monster game he did last Saturday but still added 20 and six. C.J. Garner was the star of the game with 30 points.
Rashad Whack was the best player on the floor last night.

Mount St. Mary's went into Bryant and defeated the Bulldogs by a score of 75-69. It wasn't the high scoring affair one may have expected, but nonetheless the Mount overcame an eight point second half deficit thanks in part to the complete game that guard Rashad Whack played and their ability to hit free throw's down the stretch. Sam Prescott did not go for 40+ in this one but he didn't have to thanks to the balance scoring of his teammates. The Mountaineers had four players in double digits. I do have a few additional thoughts about this game:

1) Is there anyone who wants to play the Mount right now? They're winners of eight in a row and ten of                           their last eleven.
2) I understand that Bryant has a great student section, but lets stop with the notion that they're the toughest place to play in the NEC. They lost their three biggest NEC games of the year at home (LIU, RMU, MSM).
3) Is there a more boring name in college athletics that the "Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers"?

Finally, Wagner handled Central Connecticut State with a final of 72-50. Kyle Vinales got his with 23 points but needed 22 shots do so and CCSU shot an uncharacteristically 25 percent from the field. Jonathon Williams paced Wagner with 20 points.

Saturday's match-ups look like the following:

(2) Wagner vs (3) Long Island,, 12:00 pm
(1) Robert Morris vs (5) Mount St. Mary's, FSN, 2:30 pm.

Look for a post tomorrow that breaks down these games and tune in to No Huddle on tonight at nine for more exclusive coverage. We'll have Andrew Chiappazzi of on at 9:20 pm and will be taking calls all night to talk NEC hoops. The number to call in is 412-397-6816.

--Chris Cappella

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