Youngstown State holds off road-weary Robert Morris
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Robert Morris' season hasn't gone as expected coming off the Colonials' first NCAA appearance in five seasons.
Despite returning four starters, the Colonials opened with six consecutive losses for the first time since 2000-01, when they went 0-7 under coach Danny Nee.
More than halfway through their nonconference schedule, the Colonials still are trying to find themselves.
Consistency, sixth-year coach Andy Toole said, is lacking.
Robert Morris (1-7) concluded a five-game road trip at Youngstown State and fell 65-58 on Wednesday.
“We had some really good stretches on defense and some really good stretches on offense,” Toole said. “We just haven't been able to put complete games together, (and it) has killed us.”
Youngstown State used an 11-0 run midway through the first half and held on for the win.
It was Youngstown State's third consecutive win in the series and fourth consecutive of the season. Robert Morris plays host to Oakland at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Matt Donlan, who finished with a team-high 18 points, scored 14 points in the first half as Youngstown State (4-4) grabbed a 31-23 lead at halftime.
Youngstown State extended its lead to 49-36 with 13:06 left, but Robert Morris, behind the 3-point shooting of Rodney Pryor, Matty McConnell and Isaiah Still, crawled to within 56-53 with 4:54 left.
The Colonials had chances to tie the score, but they missed a couple of 3-pointers down the stretch and Youngstown State (4-4) pulled away.
“I have to go back and look at some of those looks to make sure they were the right shots,” Toole said. “We have to go back and analyze and figure out how to clean it up.”
Robert Morris is a young team playing, at times, three true freshmen, two sophomores, one senior and two juniors.
Senior Aaron Tate, one of the team's top defenders, missed his fifth consecutive game with a leg injury.
Robert Morris turned the ball over 14 times.
“We were a minus-nine in points off turnovers and were outscored in the paint by 12,” Toole said. “We have guys getting an opportunity, and you have to assume the responsibilities that come with that.”
Pryor, held scoreless for the first 14 minutes, 13 seconds, finished with a game-high 20 points. McConnell added 12.
“I felt the difference in the game was our defense down the stretch,” said Youngstown State coach Jerry Slocum, a former Geneva coach.
“Robert Morris is playing a lot of talented young guys, and it's going to get good down the road.”
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.