Robert Morris grabs NEC win over Sacred Heart
Robert Morris junior forward Aaron Tate rarely leads the team in scoring and doesn't make spectacular plays.
What he does is give a solid effort in almost every game he plays. His season-high 10 points and eight rebounds played a big part in Robert Morris' 85-65 Northeast Conference victory over Sacred Heart (7-12, 1-5) on Sunday at Sewall Center.
While the trio of freshman Marcquise Reed, senior Lucky Jones and junior Rodney Pryor combined to score 61 points for Robert Morris (8-10, 4-2), Tate and freshman Andre Frederick gave the Colonials a consistent inside presence they have lacked all season. Frederick had seven points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
Robert Morris coach Andy Toole called the 6-foot-5 Tate the team's most consistent player.
“It's why he plays so many minutes, because we trust him to be in the right spot, to make the right effort and to make the best decision for the team,” Toole said. “He was able to finish. He was able to rebound, and his positioning was excellent, as always, defensively.
“He's a guy who is 1,000 percent about the team. We love coaching him. We probably don't tell him enough how much we appreciate what he does.”
As for Frederick, Toole said everyone sees his potential. But he's looking for more consistency from the Detroit native.
“For whatever reason during the shootaround (today) he was more engaged, lively and seemed ready to play,” said Toole. “When he got on the floor, he was able to produce and was active. If he can continue to do that, I think it would help our team dramatically, give us some offensive balance and protection.”
Jones said he was glad to see Tate and Frederick contributing and having fun.
“They played their roles,” Jones said. “They did everything the coaches asked of them. It was good to see them make shots.”
Offensively, the Colonials turned in one of their best shooting performances of the season. They were 35 for 64 (54.7 percent) from the field, including 19 for 31 (61.3) in the first half when they built a 47-35 lead.
“We got it done,” Jones said. “We felt we let one slip away (in Friday's 68-63 loss to St. Francis Brooklyn). So we had to refocus our energy. We still have to get sharper on defense.”
Reed tied his career-high with 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting. He also had five assists and hit clutch shots down the stretch when Sacred Heart was trying to make a run.
“I'm feeling more confident because my teammates are encouraging me to score,” said Reed who outshined Sacred Heart freshman Cane Broome, the team's leading scorer.
Jones added 22 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double of the season and ninth of his career. He had 15 in the first half and was 6 for 6 from the field, including 5 for 5 on 3-ponters.
Pryor ended up with 15 points, 11 in the first half. He also had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Robert Morris led 59-36 early in the second half, but Sacred Heart rallied to within 63-56 with 8:37 left.
But the Colonials, sparked by a blocked shot by Frederick, went on a 15-3 run to expand the lead to 78-60.
“We came out ready to get a win,” Reed said. “Everyone's mind was set and focused to get a victory.”
Sacred Heart sophomore De'Von Barnett, who came in averaging 10.8 points, finished with a season-high 21, 15 in the first half when he was a 7 for 7 from the field. Broome had nine points — five below his season average — all in the second half. Steve Glowacki scored 12 points off the bench for Sacred Heart.
Robert Morris outrebounded Sacred Heart, 44-30.