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Anderson scores 38 as Robert Morris knocks off St. John's

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Karvel Anderson drained nine 3-pointers and scored 38 points, Lucky Jones added 25 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, and Robert Morris knocked off St. John's 89-78 at Carnesecca Arena in the first round of the NIT.

Robert Morris improved to 22-13 and will play Belmont in the second round Friday night at 9:30 in Nashville.

It's the second straight year Robert Morris has earned a victory in over a No. 1 seed in the NIT's opening round, and also the first victory over a Big East program in school history.

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."

Robert Morris never trailed in the contest, jumping out to an early 8-0 advantage thanks to a jumper from sophomore forward Stephan Hawkins and a pair of 3-pointers from senior guard Karvel Anderson .

The early spurt forced St. John's to call timeout, but the lead swelled to 19-2 for RMU at the 15:17 mark of the first half as Anderson again hit from beyond the arc while junior forward Lucky Jones scored eight straight points.

"I guess they didn't think we were going to come out (as hard as we did)," Jones said."

RMU grabbed its biggest lead of the first half, 43-18, when Jones connected from beyond the arc and eventually owned a 49-27 advantage at the break.

Anderson and Jones combined for 38 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the floor, including 9-for-12 from deep, in the first half. Jones scored 20 points before the break by converting five of his seven shots from the field, including 5-of-6 from 3, while producing a 5-for-6 performance at the free-throw line.

"We're a team that has made 3's and can make 3's in bunches, but it isn't something that we specifically try to do," fourth-year head coach Andy Toole said. "We just try to get a good shot for our teammate being that they are open, ready and shoot at a high percentage. We discussed St. John's ability to block shots, and we felt that if we could collapse their defense, we would end up with some good opportunities for great shots."

The Red Storm also connected from beyond the arc in the first half, as eight of their nine field goals came from beyond the 3-point line.

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."

Robert Morris kept up its solid shooting in the second half, posting its largest cushion, 68-42, with 9:35 to play thanks to another 3-pointer from Anderson. The eighth triple of the game for Anderson with 6:45 remaining gave the Colonials a 74-51 lead, but St. John's had one last charge. The Red Storm reeled off a 15-0 run to close to within 74-66 at the 3:35 mark of the second half as Max Hooper connected twice from downtown and Marco Bourgault hit a 3-pointer.

RMU called timeout to stem the tide, and Anderson came through for the Colonials, tying a single-game school record with his ninth 3-pointer of the contest with 2:45 left to push the Robert Morris advantage back to double digits, 77-66.

"We dug ourselves too deep of a hole to get over the top against a good team," Lavin said.

The Colonials hit 12-of-16 free throws in the final 1:10 to seal the victory.

"Many teams after losing or not making the NCAA Tournament come in with their heads down," Anderson said. "They might feel the NIT is not worth their time, but for us this was another opportunity to showcase who we are and how tough our program is."

Robert Morris tied a single-game record by connecting for 16 three-pointers, converting an even 50 percent (16-for-32). SJU also drilled 16 three-pointers on 37 attempts (43.2 percent).

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