Robert Morris seizes control in final minute to beat Duquesne
Kavon Stewart doesn't need to request the Robert Morris men's basketball team have its name moved up the Division I pecking order in Pittsburgh. The senior guard and his Colonials teammates made their statement Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena.
In a game featuring 17 lead changes, Colonials guard Isaiah Still banked in shot with 7.3 seconds left to propel RMU to a 64-60 win.
“I always take games against Duquesne personal,” Stewart said. “A lot of the city is based off of Pitt of course, and they always say Duquesne and mention us last. I've been here for three years and went 3-1 against them. I come out with a chip on my shoulder and say this game is personal.”
Trying to build off their first win against Pitt in 16 years, the Dukes played flat. Duquesne (4-6) turned the ball over nine times in the second half and missed 10 free throws.
“For us, like most of the times it comes over to turnovers and free throws,” Dukes coach Jim Ferry said. “We have to learn to finish these games and try to win these games.”
Robert Morris, which had lost its last two games, has beaten Duquesne in six of the last seven meetings.
Duquesne guard Tarin Smith said the Dukes didn't feel like they were unprepared.
“There wasn't a Pitt hangover,” said Smith, who scored 10 points. “I think they played better than us.”
The Colonials (3-7) displayed toughness in the final 30 seconds. Robert Morris fell behind 59-58 when Dukes guard Mike Lewis II made a layup.
Still fought through hard contact in the lane on the next possession and banked in a shot. Robert Morris then forced a turnover and received a pair of free throws from Clive Allen to extend the lead to 62-59.
“That last play, I just converted a tough shot and thank God it went in,” said Still, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
Both teams went back and forth throughout the game. Neither teams led by more than nine points.
Nayke Sanders recorded a double-double for Duquesne, finishing with 11 points and 16 rebounds. Allen finished with 11 points for the Colonials.
Robert Morris led 37-33 at halftime.
The Colonials pushed the lead to 42-33 — the largest margin of the game — on a jumper by Matty McConnell (Chartiers Valley) with 18:27 remaining.
The Colonials appeared to earn separation on a pair of 3-pointers with 6:09 remaining. Kavon Stewart made a contested 3-pointer to put Robert Morris ahead, 52-51. Following a stop and offensive rebound, the Colonials found Still in the corner for another 3-pointer extend the lead to 55-51.
Following a Duquesne charge, the Colonials found good shots down the stretch.
Robert Morris coach Andy Toole was thrilled with the win. Acknowledging who the best basketball team in the city wasn't something he was worried about.
“Ah, I wouldn't go that far,” Toole said when asked if RMU was better than PItt. “We've got a lot of work to do, but if the transitive property is in effect today we'll take it.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.