Robert Morris overcame a 14-point deficit to beat beat North Florida, 81-77, in Dayton on Wednesday, as guard Lucky Jones scored a team-high 21 points off the bench.
“I just want to give thanks to God,” Jones said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “My team stuck with me, my coaches stuck with me and they just gave me so much confidence out there. I just stepped up and (was) a leader like I’ve been all this year.”
Robert Morris trailed 35-29 at halftime but erupted for 52 points in the second half. Four Colonials finished in double figures, including Rodney Pryor (20 points), Marcquise Reed (19) and Elijah Minnie (12).
“My teammates brought it today,” Jones said. “Marcquise Reed made some incredible jump shots, got to the lane and dished. Elijah Minnie has been doing it. He’s been getting double doubles, getting rebounds, getting extra shots, getting extra possessions – he’s been doing a fantastic job with his confidence. He’s really maturing as a player.”
Minnie, who had 10 rebounds, was the only player for either team to record a double-double. Kavon Stewart, meanwhile, had a game-high six assists and Jones had a game-high five steals.
It all amounted to a tournament win for the Colonials (20-14, 12-6), who have won seven straight games.
“That’s all we’ve been dreaming about this whole year,” Jones said of dancing in March. “Through the ups and downs, we stuck it out. We played together. We went out there and executed our plan. We had to box out and dig out some extra possessions. I was just trying to do the best I can on defense and make sure (it was) hard for them to score.”
It was certainly hard for Robert Morris to score early on, as the Colonials were held without a point for almost the first five minutes of the game. They trailed by 13 in the second half but never lost hope.
“We just stuck it out,” Jones said. “We’ve been in that situation before. It really shows how mature we are as a team. We just stayed with it and we stayed together.”
Robert Morris advances to play No. 1 Duke (29-4, 15-3) this Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The Blue Devils had won 12 straight games before losing to Notre Dame in the ACC Championship. In fact, Duke has won 15 straight games when facing anyone other than Notre Dame.
What will it take for the Colonials to pull off an historic upset?
“We just got to go out there and believe in ourselves, stay with the plan, stay with each other, make sure we have a lot of confidence on the offensive and defensive ends and make sure we get stops,” Jones said. “Obviously they’re a great team, they’re a high-power team, they got a lot of great players – but we believe in ourselves. We believe in our coaches, and you know we got a lot of heart out there. We’re just going to see what happens on Friday.”