Colonials sneak past Louisiana-Lafayette 72-64

Nick Buzzelli, Staff Writer

  After suffering a disappointing four point loss to Cleveland State on December 8, the Robert Morris Colonials men’s basketball team returned from its nine day final exam hiatus and continued its three game home stand by knocking off the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns 72-64 Saturday night at the Charles L. Sewall Center.

  Velton Jones, who sat out much of the first half due to foul trouble, scored 16 points for the Colonials en route to their eighth win of the 2011-2012 campaign. With the eight point setback, Louisiana Lafayette drops to 5-8 on the year, including two consecutive losses.

  Jones tallied all but one of his points in the second half and freshman Lucky Jones and Coron Williams added 12 and 10 points respectively for a Robert Morris team who trailed for much of the contest.

  “We had to sit him [Velton Jones] out because he had three fouls in the first five minutes but he’s the guy who gets things going for us,” stated head coach Andy Toole of his junior guard’s play against LLU. “He’s a lot to handle when he starts trying to get to the rim and that opened things up for different guys.”

  The match-up against the Ragin Cajuns marked forward Mike McFadden’s first appearance in a Robert Morris uniform, as well as his first game since transferring from Iona University this fall.

  “I’ve never sat out from basketball this long in my entire life,” McFadden explained prior to his return to college basketball. “Just being able to be on the court again is exhilarating.”

  The native of Newark, New Jersey had to sit out the first ten games due to NCAA transfer rules. McFadden, a 6-8 sophomore, registered 13 tallies in his debut for RMU, including six rebounds.

  Coach Toole was pleased with the way his newest player performed and expects more contribution from McFadden in the future. “I was really proud of how he responded and he gave us great minutes tonight. He made some huge plays and huge finishes in both halves of the game and he’s somebody who, as he continues to get comfortable, can continue to be productive.”

  RMU began the game on a 6-4 run, but eight minutes into the first half, the Ragin Cajuns jumped ahead to a one point lead. LLU eventually went ahead by seven points at halftime and led the Colonials until the 12 minute mark of the second frame, when Lucky Jones stole the basketball at mid-court and then drove the lane for an easy lay-up.

  Jones’s field goal put RMU on top 54-52 and gave the Colonials its first lead since five minutes into the game.

  Once Robert Morris regained the lead, they never looked back. Louisiana-Lafayette would come within a single point of tying the game with 6:20 remaining but the Ragin Cajuns could not pull away.

  Russell Johnson, a 6-6 red shirt junior, sealed the victory for RMU when his three pointer from the wing rattled in with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. Johnson’s trey gave the Colonials a six point advantage and its sixth non-conference win on the year.

  Robert Morris finishes up its home stand against the Hampton Pirates on Tuesday before beginning a five game road trip, the Colonials’ longest of the season.