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Robert Morris men fall to rival St. Francis (Pa.)

Paul Schofield
| Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, 8:27 p.m.

St. Francis (Pa.) followed a simple formula to defeat Robert Morris on Thursday at Sewall Center.

The Red Flash used balanced scoring and the inside dominance of Josh Nebo to defeat the Colonials, 77-57, in a Northeast Conference game.

St. Francis has won three consecutive games, including four of the past five meetings in the series.

Nebo, a 6-foot-8, sophomore, scored a game-high 23 points, had eight rebounds and seven blocked shots for St. Francis (3-2, 6-10). The Red Flash also had four others reach double figures: Isaiah Blackmon and Keith Braxton each scored 14 and Jamaal King and Georgios Angelou each had 12.

The presence of Nebo seemed to frustrate the Colonials' shooters, especially leading scorer Isaiah Still, who was held to eight points on 2-for-14 shooting.

Still said he thought he was getting good looks, but he was out of rhythm. After a few misses, he started talking to himself on the court. When he took it to the hoop, Nebo was there to block or alter the attempt.

“Obviously, it was another really frustrating game,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said searching for answers for why his team is so inconsistent. “I'm not sure what to say or what to do. I was really high on our guys in the way they competed during the nonconference and rose to different challenges against a challenging schedule.

“Aside from winning or losing, but not competing is frustrating. St. Francis played excellent. They kicked our butt pretty good, and we just can't seem to figure it out.”

St. Francis used a 9-0 run to grab a 12-5 lead early, but sophomore guard Matty McConnell hit a pair of 3-pointers which helped the Colonials surge to a 26-20.

But the Colonials could not sustain their momentum, and a couple 3-pointers by Angelou sparked an 8-0 run and helped the Red Flash to a 36-30 lead at halftime.

“Isaiah likes to get down hill, but we had to worry about Nebo,” McConnell said. “It was a big key of the game.”

Each team turned the ball over 19 times, but the Red Flash were 31 of 53 from the field (58.5 percent) and the Colonials were 20 of 58 (34.5).

But it was Nebo who set the tone early in the second half when he blocked a couple shots by Still. St. Francis outscored RMU, 46-22, in the paint, including 26-10 in the second half.

“They got it figured out by sharing the ball, taking good shots, making good plays and following their formula,” Toole said. “We kind of do the opposite of all that. At least we did that tonight.”

St. Francis outscored Robert Morris, 30-16, in the final 10 minutes, 53 seconds to turn the game into a blowout.

McConnell led Robert Morris (2-3, 6-12) with a season-high 15 points, and Kavon Stewart and Dachon Burke added 12 each.

“We're not consistent enough,” McConnell said. “We started the game good. The energy was high, and people were flying around. We just don't sustain our effort for all 40 minutes of the game. That's where everyone gets down.”

Toole said what frustrates him most is the team prepares one way and then does things differently in the game.

“What's frustrating is the things you emphasize in practice that are going to be important to win the game and guys don't know how to do them or can't do them or don't care about doing them,” Toole said. “We talked about those things for three days before the game and again at halftime. And it doesn't seem to be that important. That's the hardest thing to swallow. You don't give the effort to find out if they were better.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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