Robert Morris wins, earns NEC quarterfinal home game
With a hot start on its home floor, Robert Morris ensured it would get at least one postseason game there.
Rodney Pryor scored 25 points to lead four Colonials in double figures, and Robert Morris clinched a home Northeast Conference quarterfinal with a 91-59 win over Wagner on Thursday at Sewall Center.
Marcquise Reed added 20 points, Lucky Jones had 15, and Elijah Minnie 13 for Robert Morris (15-14, 11-6).
The Colonials can finish no lower than third in the NEC, and they will clinch the conference's No. 2 seed and a potential home semifinal game with a win in their final regular-season game, 4 p.m. Saturday at home against St. Francis (Pa.).
Sharp shooting fueled the Colonials from the beginning, as Robert Morris made 9 of 13 field goals to start the game and finished the game shooting 33 of 61 (54.1 percent) from the floor. Robert Morris also connected on 14 of 22 (63.6 percent) of its 3-point attempts.
“It was a great night for us, offensively and defensively,” Jones said. “We played well, and we shared the ball. Our main key was that we make the extra pass and play unselfishly. I believe we did that tonight.”
Wagner (10-18, 8-9) didn't help its cause with 12 first-half turnovers, and the Seahawks trailed at the break, 44-29.
Marcus Burton, who averaged 18.6 points per game to lead the NEC in scoring, was held to just six points for Wagner. Corey Henson led the Seahawks with 10 points.
“I think we only gave (Burton) a couple of clean looks,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “Obviously, he's the guy at the top of our scouting report who we didn't want to give opportunities to. I thought we did a good job of making him take some tough shots and not allowing him good looks from 3 to get him started.”
Wagner had an early 7-4 lead, but the Colonials' shooting onslaught began with back-to-back 3-pointers by Pryor and Kavon Stewart, who finished with seven points and seven assists.
When it wasn't ball movement on offense working for the Colonials — Robert Morris had 21 assists — it was the play on the defensive end that led to 27 points off turnovers.
“The defensive end, we got a spark there. We were able to get out in transition a lot, and guys were hitting shots early,” Pryor said. “When you see the ball go in early, guys start feeling well. That's where the energy came from.”
If there was any negative for Robert Morris, it was allowing 22 offensive rebounds, but even that didn't slow the momentum in a game controlled by the Colonials for all 40 minutes.
“That was one of our more complete games, offensively and defensively, of the year,” Toole said. “I thought we did a great job coming out in the second half and having the urgency that, in games past, we haven't had. Hopefully, that's a good sign moving forward.”
Moving forward is what the Colonials are hoping to do after an up-and-down season, and as winners of three of their last four, the team hopes to put together a tournament run on its home floor.
“It's always cool to play at the Chuck (Sewall Center), and we're trying to keep it going,” Jones said. “We want to say that (we're hitting out stride), but at the same time, we have to continue to take each game one day at a time.”