Robert Morris falls to Kent State in morning game |

Robert Morris falls to Kent State in morning game

Paul Schofield

KENT, Ohio — Robert Morris men’s basketball coach Andrew Toole said his program benefited greatly from playing Tuesday morning at Kent State on national television.

Even though the Colonials (1-1) dropped a 62-59 decision at Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, Toole remained upbeat and wouldn’t mind playing at 8 a.m. again if it meant the team was on ESPN.

Robert Morris and Kent State were part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

“Anytime we can play on ESPN and on national television when 40 percent of the country gets up to watch Sports Center and they get to see your program, it helps your program,” Toole said. “The first half really helped our program; the second half probably equaled everything out.

“A school like ours, you’re trying to get all the coverage you can. You’re trying to sell the kids that we play on ESPN, come play for us.”

A poor-shooting second half proved costly for the Robert Morris. After streaking to a 35-21 lead in the first half, the Colonials went cold from the field and only 10 of 40 shots in the second half.

Randal Holt’s 3-pointer from the corner with 28.8 seconds left gave Kent State a 60-57 lead. Robert Morris had a couple of chances to tie the score but missed two 3-pointers, including an off-balance shot at the buzzer by Velton Jones.

Toole said the second-half performance will help his team in the long run.

“I think you get to test your team in a game like this,” Toole said. “We learned so much from this game that it’s incredible. We’re going to be able to take that second half and be able to hold that over our guys’ heads for weeks.”

In the first half, Robert Morris attacked the basket, beat the Kent State players to loose balls and played well defensively.

In the second half, Kent State played more inspired basketball and was helped by the Colonials’ shooting woes.

“Robert Morris played a lot harder in the first half,” Kent State forward Justin Greene said. “We played Kent State defense in the second half.”

Kent State coach Geno Ford said his team, which was playing its fourth game in five days, played sluggish.

“They are a very good basketball team and showed why they will be a force in their conference,” Ford said. “They were getting a lot of good looks in the second half. If they make those, it’s a different game.”

Toole wasn’t disappointed with his team’s shot selection even though Jones, Karon Abraham, Gary Wallace and Russell Johnson were a combined 2 for 19 from beyond the 3-point line.

“We were getting good shots in the second half; in fact, 35 of the 40, I considered good shots,” Toole said. “We had open shots and didn’t knock them down. Then we let our offense affect how we played defense.”

Notes: Abraham led the Colonials with 13 points. Johnson had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Jones scored 10. … Greene led Kent State with 20 points. … A crowd of 1,496 attended the game after at least 3,000 fans were expected by Kent State officials. … Robert Morris hosts Duquesne at 7 p.m. Friday.

Additional Information:

Early risers

A look at the Robert Morris basketball team’s schedule leading up to its early-morning start Tuesday at Kent State:

5:20 a.m. — Wake-up call

5:40 a.m. — Breakfast

6 a.m. — Board bus to Kent State

6:30 — Arrive at Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center

6:45 — On floor loosening up

7:15 — Pregame

7:45 — Leave floor for last-minute instructions

7:55 — Return to floor

8:05 — Tip-off

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