MOON TOWNSHIP — The Robert Morris men’s basketball team (15-14, 10-6 NEC) defeated St. Francis Brooklyn (17-12, 9-7 NEC) by the score of 67-62. In attendance for senior night was NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris, who got to look on as the team honored seniors Matty McConnell and Malik Petteway.
“It’s probably something I will remember forever,” said McConnell on winning his last regular season home game at RMU. “It was just nice to know that, on my senior night, I can walk out of here with a win and remember that forever.”
The game started out strong for Robert Morris, as a pair of three-pointers from Jon Williams and Charles Bain, combined with strong defense, led them to a 6-0 start. That lead quickly dissapeared though as the Terriers went on a 9-2 run to take an early 9-8 lead.
A Dante Treacy basket gave Robert Morris the lead back at 10-9. Unfortunately for the Colonials, that was their last lead of the first half as it was quickly followed by a 9-0 run for SFB to give them an 18-10 lead with 9:57 left to play in the first half.
With 8:55 left in the first half, Robert Morris pulled within two at 18-16 after a 6-0 run that ended with a Josh Williams three-pointer. Although they were never able to tie things up, the Colonials did pull within three-points again at the 8:13 mark after a Josh Williams layup made the score 21-18.
From that point on though, the Terriers outscored 16-11 to end the half with a 37-29 lead. During that stretch, the Colonials went 0-3 from the three-point line.
At the end of the half, Jalen Jordan of St. Francis Brooklyn led all scorers with eight points. For the Colonials, Charles Bain and Josh Williams both had seven points to lead the team at the half.
A couple of Malik Petteway layups brought the team within four to start the second half. After that, SFB went on an 8-0 run to keep a nine point lead on Robert Morris. McConnell then took over as he scored six points during a 12-2 RMU run that gave them their first lead since a 10-9 lead with 14:29 left in the first half. With just over 10 minutes left to go, RMU led 45-44.
The two teams then traded baskets before Robert Morris started to pull away on the back of NCAA record holder Josh Williams, who made three consecutive three-pointers to give RMU a 57-52 five-point lead, their largest up and until this point.
The Colonials held onto the lead as Thomas dunked with 2:02 left as the Colonials led 60-57. Thomas, McConnell and Josh Williams finished off the Terriers by scoring a combined six straight points, four on free throws, before a St. Francis Brooklyn three-pointer made the score 66-62. The Terriers fouled Josh Williams with 0.8 left for one last chacne at a miracle. Josh Williams hit the foul shot though and the final score was 67-62 after a last second half-court shot was waved off for St. Francis Brooklyn.
“Another strong second half perfromance by us, especially on the defensive side of the floor,” said Coach Toole. “I thought in the first half we weren’t as urgent as we needed to be, as engaged as we needed to be and it seemed like they were attacking us the entire time. I thought in the second half, we did a much better job of kind of setting the tone. On the defensive side, Josh (Williams) got that started with two charges on the first possesions and I think that gave us a lot of life. And then we made some gutty plays down the stretch to be able to hold them off and get the win.”
Robert Morris now sits tied for second in the NEC with Fairleigh Dickinson (15-13, 10-6 NEC). Fairleigh Dickinson has the tie breaker over Robert Morris, so RMU is currently looking at the three-seed in the NEC playoffs. Saint Francis (15-12, 11-5 NEC) fell to LIU Brooklyn (12-15, 7-9 NEC) earlier tonight, so first place is still possible for the Colonials.
In order to take the one seed for the NEC postseason, Robert Morris needs to win out. In addition to that, Fairleigh Dickinson needs to lose once and Saint Francis needs to lose both of their final two games in order for Robert Morris to snag the one seed. A win in the Colonials next two games clinches a home playoff game for Robert Morris.
The Colonials final two games will be on the road against Sacred Heart (13-16, 9-7 NEC) and Wagner (13-14, 8-8 NEC). Those games take place on February 28 at 5:00 p.m. and March 2 at 4:00 p.m. The NEC playoffs start on March 6.