Colonials dash past St. Francis, advance to semifinals

Nick Buzzelli, Sports Editor

Although Robert Morris guard Velton Jones has a knack for scoring, averaging nearly 11.3 points per game, it was his work dishing the rock to teammates that helped lift the Colonials over St. Francis Brooklyn in the opening round of the Northeast Conference tournament.

Jones tallied eight assists, breaking Forest Grant’s mark for career dimes in the NEC playoffs, while Karvel Anderson shot 50% from beyond the arc to lead RMU over SFC 75-57 Wednesday night at the Charles L. Sewall Center.

“My teammates were making open shots, and I was just getting my teammates involved. It’s not all about scoring,” said Jones, who now has 46 conference tournament helpers during his time at RMU. “I was just trying to do whatever I could for the team, and that was dishing it out to Russell, Karvel, or Lucky. They were on and I just had to find them.”

The Colonials (23-9) drained three treys in the game’s first two minutes, enabling them to jump out to an early 11-4 lead over the Terriers (12-18).

RMU would use a 17-7 run to extend its lead to 14 at the half courtesy of Anderson’s layup, and wouldn’t look back.

During the final 20 minutes of play, the Colonials picked up right where they left off, tallying 35 of their 75 points en route to their fourth consecutive appearance in the semifinals.

St. Francis would not come within 14 points.

Sophomore forward Lucky Jones said that RMU learned from its mistakes the last time they faced off against SFC, which allowed them to come out on top this time around.

“We knew that it was going to be a different game. We didn’t come in in January with the best intentions, we grew from that loss,” said Jones, referring to the Colonials’ 7-61 setback in Brooklyn on January 31. “We just tried to come here, take care of business and we just would like to thank the crowd. Hopefully they come back on Saturday and give us the same help.”

Velton Jones believes that since the Colonials don’t have to travel during the playoffs, the road to the NCAA tournament is a little easier.

“It helps a lot. It’s something we harp on in August,” the native of Philadelphia said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do throughout the year because we know it’s a big help to stay home and not have to travel.”

Despite the fact that Robert Morris secured home court advantage throughout the tournament by being crowned regular season champions, Toole believes that it doesn’t alter the mentality of the club.

“For our guys, whether we’re the one seed, two seed, or three seed, they have similar expectations, and we have to prepare the same way,” the third year head coach said. “I don’t think it matters what seed you’re, you have to worry about your next opponent, how prepared you can be, and how well you can play.”

With its first round victory, Robert Morris hosts Mount St. Mary’s at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon in the conference semifinals.