ROBERT MORRIS never forgot that the NCAA Tournament was supposed to be fun. Not even when the Colonials were down by six points at halftime, and by 14 early in the second half.
Lucky Jones scored 21 points, Rodney Pryor had 20 and Marcquise Reed 19 to lead Robert Morris to an 81-77 victory over North Florida last night in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio.
"We made sure coming into halftime that we remembered this is a blessing to be out here, to enjoy the moment," Pryor said with a wide grin. "Guys had their heads down and things like that, but we reiterated going out and having fun and enjoying it."
Part of the reason they had so much fun was a second half without a turnover, plus completely stifling the high-scoring, perimeter-minded Ospreys down the stretch.
"At halftime we let [the players] be for about 5 or 6 minutes, and I think they figured it out," said coach Andy Toole, who played at Penn. "As we came in as coaches in the locker room, you know they looked like they understood what they needed to do."
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, jubilant Robert Morris fans chanted, "We want Duke! We want Duke!"
And that's who they'll get.
The Colonials (20-14), who won the Northeast Conference Tournament to get into the field as a 16-seed, meet the top-seeded Blue Devils in the second round on Friday in Charlotte, N.C.
"I like our chances," said Jones. "It's a team game, no matter who they have on their team, no matter how many TV games they have. I love Robert Morris. We just gotta go out there and believe in ourselves, have confidence, have fun and see what happens."
Robert Morris failed to score for 4:31 of the first half, and got down by 14 points early in the second after a pair of three-pointers by North Florida's Beau Beech, who finished with 28 points for the Ospreys (23-12).
But the Colonials turned the tables by shutting out North Florida for 4:44 of the second half to get back in the game.
In another game
* Jordan Sibert hit a three-point shot with 37 seconds left, leading Dayton (26-8) over Boise State (259), 56-55. in a game in which the Flyers trailed at halftime, 29-20.
Dayton will play Providence Friday in Columbus, Ohio, in an East Regional second-round game.
Shaq McKissic scored 22 points as visiting Arizona State knocked 2014 NCAA champion UConn out in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament, 68-61.
UConn senior guard Ryan Boatright, a unanimous first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection, missed the first game of his 4-year career due to a left shoulder injury.