RMU Basketball Coach Andy Toole joins Ken Laird to talk about NEC Play.
From RMU PR- The Robert Morris University men’s basketball team wrapped up a two-game homestand at the Charles L. Sewall Center to open Northeast Conference play with a 72-69 setback to Wagner Monday night.
The Colonials, who slipped to 2-13 overall and 0-2 in the NEC, had three opportunities to either grab the lead or tie it in the final 35 seconds but came up short each time.
Freshman guard Matty McConnell connected from beyond the arc with 1:16 to play that helped RMU trim its deficit to 70-69. On Wagner’s next possession, Michael Carey missed a layup, and sophomore forward Elijah Minnie grabbed the rebound for Robert Morris.
Senior guard Rodney Pryor went up for a jumper with 35 seconds to go, but the shot fell short, with Romone Saunders coming down with the rebound. Corey Henson was then fouled and sent to the line, but he missed the front end of a one-on-one opportunity with 28 seconds left.
Junior forward Billy Giles grabbed the rebound for the Colonials, and with under 10 seconds to play, Minnie rose up for a jumper just inside the three-point line but the shot was off the mark. Carey grabbed the rebound for the Seahawks and was immediately fouled. He sank both of his attempts at the chalk to give Wagner a 72-69 edge with 6.3 seconds remaining.
Out of a Wagner timeout, junior guard Kavon Stewart was fouled as soon as he stepped over midcourt with 3.3 seconds left. He missed both of his free throws, but on the second Carey came down with the board but stepped out of bounds, giving Robert Morris the ball with 2.2 seconds to play.
The Colonials called timeout, and out of the break Pryor’s three-pointer from the top of the key was strong, helping the Seahawks seal the victory.
Wagner didn’t convert a field goal in the final four minutes and 20 seconds of the contest but was bolstered by an 8-for-9 performance at the stripe in the final four minutes. The Seahawks also held a 44-24 edge on the glass, including a 23-10 cushion in offensive rebounds.
“I thought for the most part tonight we played with the appropriate effort,” head coach Andrew Toole said. “We talk all the time about playing good defense, not turning the ball over and rebounding. Those are the formulas for success. We defended well, and I thought we did a better job in the second half of not turning it over. They hurt us on the boards. You can’t do two of three or one of three and expect to win the game. There’s a small margin of error. We still don’t value some of the details that I think will get us over the hump.”
Robert Morris trailed, 35-31, heading into the second half, and Wagner quickly grabbed its largest lead of the contest, 43-33, with 14:20 remaining after a layup from Carey. The Seahawks also had a double-digit cushion, 50-40, with 11:10 to go after Mike Aaman scored a layup in the paint.
The Colonials slowly chipped away, using a 7-0 spurt that featured a pair of jumpers from Pryor and a three-pointer by Minnie to close to within 55-51 at the 7:38 mark of the second half.
Wagner kept RMU at bay, owning a trio of six-point leads in the final five minutes, including 68-62 with 2:28 to go after a pair of free throws from Dwaun Anderson. The Seahawks then sealed the win at the free-throw line.
Stewart garnered game-high honors in scoring with a career-high 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, including 1-for-1 from deep, and an 8-for-10 performance at the charity stripe. He also added seven assists and five steals.
Giles added a career-high 17 points and six rebounds, Minnie contributed 13 points, seven boards and two blocks off the bench and Pryor finished with 10 points and six caroms.
Wagner’s top two leading scorers were reserves, as Saunders finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Aaman chipped in 14 points, six boards and two assists. Carey finished with 12 points and eight caroms and Corey Henson contributed 11 points.
Robert Morris takes to the road for six of its next eight games, beginning with a 7:00 p.m. tilt Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, against LIU Brooklyn at the Steinberg Center.