Robert Morris Football Coach John Banaszak joins Ken Laird to talk Colonials and Steelers.


The Robert Morris University men’s basketball team opened its 2015-16 campaign with a 77-57 exhibition victory over Saint Vincent Tuesday night at the Charles L. Sewall Center.

The opening five minutes was a tight affair, as the Bearcats used a trio of three-pointers to keep pace with the Colonials. Jaylon Bell hit a pair for SVC, while Pat Jones hit another. Tied, 9-9, at the 15:12 mark of the first half, RMU used a layup from junior forward Billy Giles to grab an 11-9 edge at the first media timeout.

Out of the timeout Robert Morris hung a 24-7 run on Saint Vincent to open up a 35-16 advantage with 6:16 to go in the first half. Freshman guard Matty McConnell was the main offensive sparkplug for the Colonials during the surge, scoring 11 points.

SVC was able to regroup and scored the next 10 points of the game to get their deficit back into single digits, 35-26, as Alex Vanzant bolstered the Bearcats with four points.

Robert Morris eventually owned a 38-26 edge at the break thanks to another triple from McConnell, who scored 14 points before intermission thanks to a 5-for-9 shooting performance, including a 4-for-8 outing from deep.

“We don’t have a shortage of guys that want to score, which is good,” head coach Andrew Toole said. “We have an aggressive group offensively. More importantly, the guys enjoy playing together. That’s a really great sign. We saw flashes on the offensive end and flashes on the defensive end, and there’s some things we’ll need to clean up on both ends. Now we have some film that we can show the guys that will help them improve.”

McConnell opened the second half with a three-pointer that pushed RMU’s lead to 41-26, and the rookie finished the night with a game-high 23 points. He shot 8-for-13 from the field, including 7-for-12 from beyond the arc, and also added a pair of assists and two steals.

RMU grabbed its biggest lead at the 6:43 mark of the second half, as freshman guard Steven Whitley connected from deep to give the Colonials a 68-43 lead.

Senior guard Rodney Pryor also finished in double figures for Robert Morris, scoring 14 points while tying for game-high honors in assists with six. He also grabbed four rebounds. Whitley added nine points, and junior guard Kavon Stewartfinished with eight points, six assists and three steals.

Giles, earning the start at forward, finished with four points, five rebounds and four blocks, while sophomore forward Andre Frederick, also a member of the starting five, posted six points, a game-high eight boards and a pair of rejections.

Sophomore Elijah Minnie played 17 minutes in the second half, scoring six points, grabbing eight boards and blocking a shot.

Saint Vincent was led by Bell, who scored 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including a 4-for-9 performance from deep. Austin Dedert added 10 points for the Bearcats.

Robert Morris opens its 2015-16 regular season Friday, Nov. 13, with a 6:00 p.m. tip against Penn in Philadelphia, Pa., at The Palestra.

55.8 – Percentage the Colonials shot from the field (29-for-52) as well as the percentage of points (43-of-77) RMU received from student-athletes in their first year on the roster.

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