With its lead trimmed to six and the clock ticking down to the final minute of Tuesday’s game against No. 14Herndon, Robinson Coach Brian Nelson called for his team to move the ball around and away from Hornets defenders.
Though Nelson typically employs this approach to ice a game during its final moments, the scheme isn’t much different than the Rams’ usual offense; they swing the ball with purpose until they find the open man. In this case, that player happened to be Joe Bynum, who gathered the possession’s fourth pass and drained an open three-pointer from the corner.
“It doesn’t matter who scores,” Nelson said. “It only matters that we score.”
Nine Robinson players scored to help the No. 20 Rams knock off the Hornets, 82-67, in Fairfax. The outcome snapped Herndon’s 10-game winning streak and moved Robinson into a tie with the Hornets atop the conference standings.
Initially, the Rams (14-3, 5-1 in Conference 5) struggled to demonstrate their concerted effort on the defensive end as Herndon’s Kent Auslander stretched the floor with 16 first-half points on three three-pointers.
It appeared Auslander would continue his onslaught after driving for a score to start the third quarter. But the Rams increased their defensive pressure, holding the Hornets without a field goal for the next five minutes.
“They were hitting a lot of threes and big shots at first,” Rams guard Matt Fall said. “We pride ourselves on our defense, and we just worked hard to lock down their big players.”
Fall took advantage of Herndon’s drought, scoring nine of his game-high 21 points in the third quarter to give Robinson a two-point lead entering the fourth period.
With the momentum up for grabs, Robinson seized control at the quarter’s outset with consecutive threes by Bynum (14 points) and Jared Steen (14 points).
“Coach always tells us to extend the lead if we can, and that’s what we tried to do by moving the ball and knocking down shots,” Bynum said.
Though Herndon (14-2, 5-1) worked to establish an offensive rhythm behind its own wealth of scorers, the pace wasn’t enough to keep up with the Rams’ sound ball movement on the other end.
A number of passes off dribble drives led to open looks and free throw opportunities; the Rams drained 16 of 18 attempts at the line in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win.
“We take pride in finding the open man,” Fall said. “It doesn’t matter who scores the most, and it could be a different player every night. As a unit, we just try to score as much as we can.”