Robert Morris University men’s head basketball coach Andy Toole has his V-8 running on all cylinders.
The Colonials held off a late rally by Saint Francis University in Saturday’s Northeast Conference semifinal to put up a 60-57 victory in Moon Township.
Senior RMU guard and NEC Player of the Year Karvel Anderson posted 21 points, all in the second half. Junior forward Lucky Jones had 18 points while junior guard David Appolon contributed nine points, going 3 for 4 at the free throw line in the final minute of play.
No. 1 seed Robert Morris (21-12, 14-2 NEC) will host No. 4 seed Mount St. Mary’s (15-16, 9-7 NEC) in the Colonials’ first championship game since winning the 2009 crown, which was also against the Mount. That 2009 contest was the lowest-scoring finale in league history as the two teams combined for 94 points. The Colonials won 48-46 on a shot with 2.5 seconds to play by junior forward Dallas Green.
Mount St. Mary’s comes into the championship game after upsetting No. 2 seed Wagner 77-72 on Saturday afternoon in Staten Island, N.Y. They were led by senior guard Rashad Whack’s 21 points while senior guards Sam Prescott and Julian Norfleet each contributed 16. Sophomore forward Gregory Graves put up 12 points and seven rebounds on the score sheet.
The Mount has played for the NEC title in four of the last seven seasons, while the two programs have combined to win 10 NEC championships. This rivalry has seen Robert Morris win seven titles, the most in league history, while Mount St. Mary’s has three championship trophies. The league has an automatic berth to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
This championship game will see contrasting approaches. RMU has allowed 65 or fewer points in nine of its last 10 games. Opponents have averaged just 59.7 points per game against the Colonials in that stretch.
On the other side of the court, Mount St. Mary’s leads the NEC in scoring at 76.3 ppg, and has scored at least 87 points in four of its last eight contests. Both squads like to put the ball up from 3-point range as the Mount is first in the conference with 8.9 trifectas per game and Robert Morris is third with 7.3 per contest.
The game this evening will tip-off at 7 p.m. at the Charles L. Sewall Center, and will be televised nationally by ESPN2 and ESPN3 with Mike Crispino and Miles Simon on the call. The contest will also be on local radio on 970 ESPN AM with Chris Shovlin and Jim Elias handling broadcast duties.
The country will be watching two of the nation’s upcoming and youngest head coaches at work. Robert Morris’ Toole, who is in his fourth year as head coach, is 33 years old, while second-year Mount head coach Jamion Christian is only 31 years old.