St. Francis (Pa.) men end 14-game losing streak against Robert Morris
LORETTO — St. Francis (Pa.) hadn't beaten Robert Morris since Dec. 8, 2007, and it hadn't defeated the Colonials at home since Feb. 17, 2004.
The Red Flash ended a 14-game losing streak in the series Monday at DeGol Arena, holding on to defeat Robert Morris, 66-59.
St. Francis (8-5, 2-0 NEC) got clutch plays from its veterans, a bucket from Earl Brown and two free throws from Ronnie Drinnon in the final minute to seal the win.
This was a statement game for the St. Francis program because of the losing streak.
“We challenged the group to make a statement anytime you put on a Red Flash uniform,” St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. “We and the university consider Robert Morris a rival. But to become a rivalry, you need to win some games. It was a great way to start the conference.”
Robert Morris (5-9, 1-1 NEC) never led and forced only three ties, the last being 49-49 with 9:13 left on a 3-pointer by Kavon Stewart.
Whenever the Colonials had a chance to take a lead, they either missed a shot or turned over the ball. The Colonials also struggled to make shots late in the game, going 2 for 10 during the final eight minutes.
“Turnovers (13) hurt us, and the 21 points off them hurt us,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “We tried not to give them some easy stuff. I thought we got a couple good looks after Kavon's missed free throw, and we had a couple shots at it. It seemed to be there and they just didn't go down.”
Said Brown: “When we lost to them in the conference quarterfinals last year, nobody forgot that feeling. It hurt and we didn't want to feel it again.”
Drinnon scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, and Ben Millaud-Meunier came off the bench to score 14. Brown also had 14 points, and Ollie Jackson finished with 10, all in the first half.
“It was a big challenge for us,” Drinnon said. “We knew Robert Morris would play hard because it has been at the top of the conference for years. We took the challenge.”
Freshman Marcquise Reed finished with 22 points to pace Robert Morris. Stephan Bennett had 10 points.
Rodney Pryor scored only two points in the first half and finished with eight. He was 4 for 14 from the field and 0 for 6 from beyond the 3-point line. Lucky Jones was held scoreless in the first half and finished with four points and 12 rebounds.
For the first 10 minutes, it looked as though St. Francis was going to send Robert Morris back to Moon Township with an embarrassing loss. Jackson hit three consecutive 3-pointers, and St. Francis raced to a 28-10 lead.
But Robert Morris kept playing hard, and St. Francis went cold. The Colonials used a 12-0 run to outscore the Red Flash, 16-5, to trim the lead to 31-26 by halftime.
St. Francis failed to score during a 6:34 span and was 1 for 10 from the field after beginning 11 for 17.
“St. Francis had a great start, and we didn't play well enough to start the game,” Toole said. “We didn't have the energy to start the game that we needed.
“I was pleased with the way we fought back in the game and gave an opportunity. And down the stretch, St. Francis made the plays. They deserved to win the game, and it was a great learning experience for us.”
Both teams go on the road next. Robert Morris is at Wagner on Thursday, and St. Francis goes to Bryant.