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Oliver steps up for Robert Morris in win over Mount St. Mary's

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Charles Oliver scored 19 points and Robert Morris used a balanced scoring attack to overcome Rashad Whack's 27 points and defeat Mount St. Mary's 69-61 at the Sewall Center on Saturday.

One of the premiere reasons for Robert Morris’ first-place standing in the Northeast Conference has been the Lucky Jones-Karvel Anderson offensive tandem.

The Colonials proved Saturday evening that they did not need optimal scoring efforts from the two in order to escape upset, as Robert Morris (16-11, 11-1 NEC) beat Mount St. Mary’s (10-14, 6-5)  69-61 at the Seawall Center.

Charles Oliver, who was playing an average of just 14 minutes per game before Saturday, stepped up in place of the struggling duo.

Oliver scored a career-high 19 points, going 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point line, in 21 minutes of play.

“Before the game, [assistant coach Michael] Byrnes thought I was going to have an impact in today’s game because they were going to deny Lucky and Karvel,” Oliver said after the game. “They basically weren’t really going to respect me so I had to make them pay for that.”

Jones and Anderson, who average 33.2 points per game, combined for just 16, though Jones pitched in with 9 rebounds.

At the 6:07 mark in the second half, Mount St. Mary’s guard Rashad Whack—who had a 27-point night—was en route to an uncontested layup, but in an effort to block Whack’s shot, Jones toppled to the ground, injuring his right wrist.

Jones left the game, but came back at the 3:31 mark with tape around his forearm, and he played arguably his best three-and-a-half minutes, helping the Colonials secure the win with five points and two rebounds.

Jones gave credit to Oliver, implying that Oliver is a secret talent that not too many teams know about.

“With his ability to shoot from three and drive on smaller defenders on teams who don’t respect him so much, he’s got to take advantage of all those opportunities,” Jones said. “Because as spaced as the floor is going to be, when people deny Karvel and I, we’ve got to continue to execute and score.”

Since coach Andy Toole and his team lost four players for the year due to suspension and two others remain absent from the team, he no longer has the luxury of a deep bench.

So Toole said it was a relief that his team was able to look to Oliver whenever it needed a basket.

“They did a great job at taking away Karvel and Lucky and so you need a third guy to be able to step up and to his credit he stepped up,” Toole said. “He was aggressive and he was locked in.”

The game featured only one lead change, but the Mountaineers never trailed by more than 11.

Down nine with three minutes to go, Mount St. Mary’s set up a full court press, which seemed to stun the Colonials.

A pair of Robert Morris turnovers and 3-point field goals by Whack brought the Mountaineers within four, 62-58, with 1:39 left.

The Colonials then began finding open men downcourt, and in the remaining time, got two open lay ups to fall and went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.

Toole said his team was fortunate that Mount St. Mary’s comeback effort didn’t begin sooner.

“We know how dangerous they are offensively, and at any point in time they can get it going,” Toole said. “Fortunately, the clock ran out before they could really get it going because they had those three straight threes late.”

Whack’s 27 points led all scorers, while Robert Morris’ Anthony Myers-Pate complimented Oliver’s total with 11 points for himself.

Saturday’s game marked the fourth-best defensive performance the Colonials have displayed all season. Their top three came in their previous three games, when they allowed a mere 50 points against Saint Francis (Brooklyn), 56 against LIU Brooklyn and 60 against St. Francis U.

Opponents have also shot just 38 percent from the floor in the span.

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