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Robert Morris loses Northeast Conference opener to Sacred Heart

Paul Schofield
| Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, 6:19 p.m.

It was the same old story Saturday for the Robert Morris men's basketball team.

The Colonials played their worst game of the season and dropped their Northeast Conference opener to Sacred Heart, 69-65, at Sewall Center.

Turnovers, poor second-half shooting and bad defense were too much for the Colonials (2-12, 0-1) to overcome.

“It's frustrating as a coach. I've never had a team respond less to me as a human being,” RMU coach Andy Toole said. “I can't get them to do anything.

“It was a total lack of respect for the game of basketball, guys going through the motions and not competing at a high enough level.”

Sacred Heart (2-10, 1-0) outscored Robert Morris, 36-23, during the final 16 minutes to erase a 42-33 deficit and end its 10-game losing streak.

“It's not easy to keep the team together during a tough stretch,” Sacred Heart coach Anthony Latina said. “We tried to stay positive and we tried to be better at something our last three games of the nonleague schedule.”

Sacred Heart sophomore guard Cane Broome keyed the comeback. He scored a game-high 33 points, including 18 in the first half to help the Pioneers stay close. His 3-pointer at the end of the first half cut RMU's lead to 34-29 at halftime.

“Our scouting report had in bold big letters, ‘Don't let No. 1 Cane Broome have a big game,' ” Toole said. “He had a big game.

“Individual ownership and individual responsibility is needed by all of us because that's how good teams work. Previous teams had pride in the program and university. It's hard to coach this group.”

The Colonials pushed their lead to 42-33 early in the second half. But they went cold from the field, which led to them playing poorly on the defensive end of the court.

Sacred Heart went on a 10-0 run to grab a 43-42 lead. It then used an 18-6 run to push the lead to 61-52 3:15 left.

Robert Morris went 12:56 without making a field goal. The Colonials cut the lead to 67-65 on 3-pointers by Kavon Stewart, Isaiah Still and Matty McConnell, but Matej Buovac hit six free throws in the final 54 seconds to seal the win, including two with 5.6 seconds left.

The Colonials endured a 2 for 16 stretch from the field in the second half. They finished 7 for 29 in the second half and 20 for 50 for the game.

Stewart led the Colonials with 19 points. Rodney Pryor had 16 points, and Isaiah Still added 10.

The Colonials had 20 turnovers, 14 in the first half.

“We played with the lack of urgency and details,” Pryor said. “Sacred Heart made more winning plays than we did. Now we all have to look in the mirror and figure it out.”

Stewart said: “It's a wakeup call for everyone. We have to do a better job and set a better tone in practice.”

Quincy McKnight had 12 points and Eyimofe Edukugho added 10 for Sacred Heart.

Robert Morris will host Wagner at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

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

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