Robert Morris pulls upset over St. John's in NIT
NEW YORK — The Robert Morris University Colonials were disappointed about not qualifying for the NCAA tournament. So they took their frustration out on the St. John’s Red Storm.
Karvel Anderson scored 38 points and Lucky Jones added 25 to help the Colonials beat St. John’s 89-79 in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
Robert Morris improved to 22-13 and will play either Green Bay or Belmont in the second round.
“We had more disappointment than they did,” Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said of missing the NCAA tournament. The Colonials lost to Mount St. Mary’s, 88-71, in the Northeast Conference Championship Game. “(We) came into this game wanting to continue (our) season.
“I didn’t have it in my head that this would be the last time we (would play) together. We’ll keep playing for as long as someone (allows us).”
Jamal Branch scored 22 points to lead the Red Storm (21-13).
“We didn’t give an A-level effort,” St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said. “We got beat to the punch in every aspect of play.”
The Colonials never trailed in the first matchup between the Northeast Conference and Big East Conference programs. Robert Morris led by as much as 25 in the first half and had a 49-27 advantage at halftime.
“I guess they didn’t think we were going to come out (as hard as we did),” Jones said.”
Robert Morris’ lead grew to as much as 26 points in the second half, and the Colonials needed every bit of the advantage as the Red Storm used its press to go on a 24-6 run spanning six-and-a-half minutes to cut the lead to 74-66.
But Anderson’s left corner three increased Robert Morris to 77-66, effectively ending the game.
“We dug ourselves too deep of a hole to get over the top against a good team,” Lavin said.
The Colonials were able to neutralize St. John’s by turning the game into a half court affair. Robert Morris shot 48.2 percent from the field, while limiting the Red Storm to 37.2 shooting.
“We’re a team that can make threes,” Toole said.
Both teams were short-handed. Robert Morris lost junior forward David Appolon in the first half with a foot injury. He sat on the bench in the second half, his foot wrapped and he had crutches. Toole did not have an update on Appolon’s condition after the game, other to say the small forward will be “evaluated” once the team returns to Pittsburgh.
St. John’s played without freshman guard Rysheed Jordan, who was diagnosed with tonsillitis two hours before the game. Jordan averaged 9.7 points, three assists per game and 1.2 steals in 29 games this season.
“Rysheed Jordan was out (and) he’s been the key to our turnaround,” Lavin said. “That didn’t help.”