Robert Morris plays poorly in loss to Long Island
The rollercoaster season for the Robert Morris basketball team continued Thursday at Sewall Center.
This was one of those games the Colonials would like to quickly to forget. Embarrassing is how Robert Morris coach Andy Toole described it.
Robert Morris was run out of its own gym by the strong inside game of Long Island in a Northeast Conference game.
The Blackbirds (9-7, 2-1 NEC) got 19 points from 6-foot-7 senior forward Jerome Frink and 12 from 6-7 junior Nura Zanna in their 65-54 victory. The Blackbirds outscored the Colonials, 44-22, in the paint.
Frink also had 11 rebounds and Zanna 13.
“Clearly, LIU deserved to win the game,” Toole said. “They played better and wanted to win more than us. I apologize with the way we performed. I felt disrespected. We didn't play with a lot of desire and effort.”
The Colonials didn't help themselves by shooting poorly from the field (21 of 50), being outrebounded 43-20 and committing 16 turnovers.
Robert Morris (5-11, 1-2) was led by freshmen Dachon Burke 13 points and Braden Burke 10. The Burkes are not related.
Leading score Isaiah Still, who averaged 15.4 points per game, was held to seven points and made only 2 of 14 shots from the field. He and other players let their poor shooting affect their play on the defensive end.
Robert Morris was playing without starting senior point guard Kavon Stewart who was suspended for a violation of a team rule. Missing from the lineup was his leadership and 11.3 points per game.
“I don't know what ‘K' we would have gotten,” Toole said. “He's a big part of the team and personality of the team, but when you're not in the right mind frame, what do you lose. When he's at his best, he's tremendous.”
Long Island took a 33-28 lead at halftime after Robert Morris allowed freshman Julian Batts (Jeannette) to drive the length of the court with 6.5 left to hit a layup.
Batts, a 2015 Jeannette graduate who spent one season at St. Thomas More Prep, finished with six points.
“That play was a deflating play,” Toole said. “If you get down in your stance, move your feet and make him go towards the sideline and I'm sure when we watch it he probably driven by three or four guys who made no effort to stop him.”
LIU opened the second half on a 7-0 run to open up a 40-28 lead. The lead eventually stretched to 57-37 with 5:48 left.
“The end of the first half and beginning of the second half was huge,” LIU coach Jack Perri said. “We've struggled in the second half of games and that was a key to the win.”
Robert Morris tries to rebound 4 p.m. Saturday against St. Francis Brooklyn, while LIU travels to St. Francis, Pa., for a 4 p.m. tip.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.