LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Ronald Roberts Jr. came to the HP Field House at ESPN's Wide World of Sports ready to play Sunday.
And that was a good thing. During a lethargic start for St. Joseph's in the fifth-place game at the Old Spice Classic, Roberts was inspired, and his energy eventually carried over to the rest of his team. The Hawks senior continued his strong play in the tourney, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as St. Joseph's (4-2) pulled out a 72-67 victory over Washington State.
"I'm really happy for these players because of [the way they] compete," St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli said.
Roberts started things off with a pair of emphatic dunks in the first six minutes and finished his impressive tournament performance with eight of St. Joe's final nine points to put the Cougars away.
"I base my game a lot off energy," Roberts said. "I just tried to go as hard as I could, and I think if I go hard, good things will always happen. I'm not always going to make shots . . . but I can always try to get rebounds, putbacks, and get on the floor and get loose balls."
With Roberts' energy and the scrappy play of center Halil Kanacevic, the Hawks kept pace with the Cougars early. Once leading scorer Langston Galloway got untracked, St. Joseph's took control in the first half, jumping out to its biggest lead of the game at 29-21 with 5 minutes, 24 seconds left before halftime.
Kanacevic also had key first-half buckets, including his own dunk, and his passes to find Roberts underneath made the Cougars pay for collapsing in the paint.
"He always seems to find me in the right spots, and he likes to throw me alley-oops. . . . He always gets me the ball, so I just try to go up and finish," Roberts said of Kanacevic.
DaVonte Lacy, who led the Cougars with 25 points, was 9 of 14 on threes.