Mount St. Mary’s whacks RMU’s NCAA Tournament aspirations

If Robert Morris had things its way, the Colonials would have defeated rival Mount St. Mary’s in front of a packed Charles L. Sewall Center exactly five years to the day when Dallas Green’s mid-range jumper lifted RMU over the Mountaineers for the 2009 Northeast Conference crown.

While the Colonials had both the crowd and history on their side, the one thing that was standing in their way was Rashad Whack.

Whack exploded offensively in the second half, netting 16 of his 20 points in the final frame, en route to the Mountaineers’ 88-71 victory over RMU in the title contest.

“Clearly Mount was the better team tonight, they deserved to win the game. My hats off to Jamion [Christian] and his staff for the job that they did,” said head coach Andy Toole. “It was a great three game run by them to go onto the NCAA Tournament, just disappointed for our team because I just wished we would have played better so we would have given ourselves a chance. I thought they deserved that. It’s just disappointing.”

MSM took a 2-0 advantage on their second possession of the contest courtesy of Taylor Danaher’s 10 foot hook shot, but 16 seconds later Dave Appolon drove the length of the floor for a dunk.

This was the first and only time that the Colonials tied the score.

“I don’t think that we were urgent enough defensively to start the game the way that you need to be in a championship type atmosphere,” Toole said.

Every time Robert Morris came close, the Mountaineers, who shot 75% from the field in the game’s first 12 minutes, picked apart RMU’s zone, accounting for 48 points in the first half.

Despite the fact that Stephan Hawkins gave the Colonials momentum by netting four points in a 46 second span in the early stages of the second half, the fast tempo offense RMU ran wasn’t working.

“We just tried to attack,” said Lucky Jones, who had 11 tallies. “We just didn’t finish any layups. We went in one against three every time and it wasn’t working for us.”

Though Robert Morris managed to come within 10 points at the 12:44 mark of the final frame, it was the closest they would get.

“We got it down to 10 and wanted to make a 10 point play, but those don’t exist,” the fourth year head coach said. “10 went right back to 20 pretty quick because we wasted possessions. Even to start the second half we got three or four stops where we just gave them the ball right back.”

Since the Colonials did capture the NEC regular season title, they’re guaranteed a berth in the NIT, though it’s not the tournament Karvel Anderson was looking forward to.

“This was the only game that really mattered to us,” said Anderson, who paced RMU with 21 points. “We really weren’t looking forward to anything after this if it wasn’t in the NCAA Tournament.”