Robert Morris men's basketball team falls in CIT quarterfinals
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FAIRFIELD, Conn. — They have been road warriors all season, but in the end, too many mistakes did in Robert Morris on Wednesday night.
Maurice Barrow scored 19 points and Fairfield fended off the Colonials for a 67-61 win in the CollegeInsider Tournament quarterfinals in front of 1,407 fans at Alumni Hall.
Rakim Sanders added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Colin Nickerson also had 14 points as the Stags (22-14) advanced to play Mercer in the semifinals.
Mike McFadden led RMU (26-11) with 20 points, and Velton Jones added 12. But the Colonials shot just 50 percent (12 of 24) from the foul line, committed 15 turnovers and failed to make enough stops in the final minutes.
"I'm proud of my guys for continuing to fight like they always do, but I'm disappointed in the number of mistakes we made — you can't beat a good team like Fairfield making the number of mistakes we made," Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole said.
RMU trailed, 36-25, at the half, but outscored the Stags, 36-3, in the second half, led by 12 points from McFadden and 10 from Jones. However, the Colonials never got closer than two points.
"We didn't play the way we should have in the first half, and we were just trying to find some energy in the second half and play the way we can," Jones said. "When we finally got some stops, that gave us some energy, but in a big game like this you should always have some energy."
Twice, Robert Morris cut the deficit to a possession in the final 1:41, the first coming on McFadden's three-point play, which made it 57-55. Barrow answered at the other end with an easy layup.
RMU then cut it to 59-57 with a Jones basket at 1:11, but Sanders, a 6-foot-5 forward, worked the ball up the floor and found Ryan Olander underneath for another easy two points.
"Those were backbreakers," Toole said.
The Stags had a chance to run RMU out of the building in the first half, using a 13-1 run to grab a 33-18 lead with 5:06 remaining. Colin Nickerson and Desmond Wade hit 3-pointers to open and close the run, respectively.
Nickerson's basket, which came with 7:34 left and made it 23-17, was the first points from a Fairfield guard in the half.
Jones left the game with 4:40 left in the half after picking up his second foul, but RMU managed to chip into the Fairfield lead and trailed 36-25 at the half.
"We want to respect them because we know what they have been doing, and Andy's a good coach, but the focus needed to be on us," Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson said. "We are playing halfway decent ball, we are at home ... without disrespecting them, but we wanted to say 'how about us' and we wanted to make a statement throughout the game."
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