LORETTO, Pa. – When a player shoots 48 percent from 3-point range, they’re not too accustomed to hearing “airball” chants rained down in their direction.
But after one of Karvel Anderson’s shots failed to hit the rim in the first half of a road game, it was inevitable.
Though the scene wasn’t an enviable one for any player, Anderson’s mindset never changed. As far as he saw it, it couldn’t, even as the comments continued into the second half.
“I was going to be aggressive no matter what happened,” he said. “If I would have let that affect me, it would have dragged on the entire game.”
And affect him it didn’t.
By the time his team walked off the court with a 66-60 victory Thursday night at Saint Francis, the senior guard netted a team-high 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting, providing consistent and timely scoring that proved to be the difference.
Impressive as the performance was, it’s what the team’s leading scorer has been doing for much of this season.
“There are times when the play breaks down and he’s still able to make the shot or create enough space to get it off,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “It makes us fortunate as a coaching staff to be able to have that and he’s done it all year long for us.”
The win helped improve Robert Morris’ record in Northeast Conference play to 10-1, effectively giving it a 2.5 game lead over second-place Bryant. With the loss, the Red Flash (7-17, 5-6 NEC) haven’t defeated the Colonials (15-11, 10-1) since Dec. 8, 2007.
Five of the past eight losses in the series have come by 10 points or fewer, with Thursday night proving to be the latest chapter in the saga.
“There are only so many of these games that you play throughout your career and our guys were up for it,” Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. “They responded to the challenge, but just came up short tonight.”
Trailing by eight points with 11 minutes remaining, Saint Francis went on a 12-4 run to tie the score at 51 with 5:57 left. But, just as he had for much of the game, Anderson led his team through any difficulty, scoring six of the Colonials’ final 15 points.
Robert Morris made 11 of its 12 free throws in the final five minutes and two of its three field goals, with the lone miss ending up as an offensive rebound. Saint Francis, meanwhile, missed six of its final nine shots.
“It just shows how fragile the game is,” Toole said. “We end up making and they end up missing a couple of good looks that all of a sudden can change the course of a game.”
Lucky Jones added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Colonials, who shot 54.8 percent as a team. Earl Brown led Saint Francis with 17 points and seven rebounds.
The victory was Robert Morris’ 10th in its past 11 games. Though his team has momentum and a comfortable lead in the conference standings, Toole knows that with five games remaining in the regular season, the margin for error is still pretty small.
“There’s a confidence there, but I want to make sure it’s not an expectation that you’re just going to go on the floor and win games,” he said. “We keep reminding them the reason they’ve been successful is because they’ve followed through on the process and followed our formula and we need to continue to do that.”