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Cold-shooting Robert Morris basketball falls to Penn in season opener

| Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

Robert Morris basketball coach Andy Toole is ready to see how the Colonials work to find solutions on offense.

Entering its season opener against Penn on Friday night at Sewall Center, RMU's lineup was bereft of experienced scorers. No returning Colonials player averaged in double figures last season.

Against the Quakers, communication issues and cold shooting did in RMU during a 67-50 nonconference loss.

RMU shot 29 percent (17 of 58) from the field, including 17 percent (3 of 17) from behind the arc.

“I think a lot of it is the mental aptitude, the mental focus of what's going on,” Toole said. “There's times we settle for things because it's hard to find that next level of offense. Whether it's making the next pass, getting into your next cut or reversing the ball one extra time in order to be able to find an even better look.”

Sophomore guard Isaiah Still was the lone Colonial to finish in double figures, scoring 15 points. RMU was buried by a frigid start. The Colonials shot 25 percent (8 of 32) and turned the ball over eight times during the first half.

The Quakers opened with a 12-2 run and never trailed.

“I just think we have to organize better,” Still said. “Some guys were on different pages. One guy might be calling this play and someone might not hear him. Someone might doing this and we're not.”

Penn's offense didn't feel the same pinch, routinely getting good looks at the rim. Most of the dirty work was done by Quakers freshman forward AJ Brodeur, who finished with 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting and 11 rebounds.

Penn shot 47.3 percent (26 of 55) from the field and 27.8 percent (5 of 18) from the 3-point line.

“He's an excellent player and one of the things we wanted to do was defend the 3-point line, which we did a reasonably good job of,” Toole said. “Brodeur, in order to beat us, was going to have to be the guy that had a big game and he certainly did that.”

RMU had its best stretch before halftime. After falling behind 23-6, the Colonials cut the deficit to 29-20 just before halftime on a 3-pointer by Matt McConnell (Chartiers Valley).

RMU's Braden Burke opened the second half with a layup to slice the deficit to seven, but a layup from Brodeur and 3-pointer from Matt Howard helped Penn stretch the lead.

Toole found things to work out. Now, he has to solve the problems.

“There were times out there we looked disorganized,” Toole said. “They have to clean that up, and I have to clean that up.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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