Robert Morris men's basketball team falls to 0-3 after loss to Bucknell
Robert Morris men's basketball coach Andy Toole knows the solution to his team's three-game slide to begin the season: Start faster.
The Colonials dug themselves a huge hole for the third consecutive game and ended up falling to Bucknell, 81-76, on Wednesday at Sewall Center.
Bucknell, picked to finish second in the Patriot League, used a 14-0 run early in the first half, kept Robert Morris (0-3) scoreless for more than six minutes and held on at the end against the scrappy Colonials.
Four free throws in the final 10 seconds from Ryan Frazier stymied the Colonials' fierce comeback.
“I thought we did a lot of positive things, but we didn't start the game in the fashion that we needed,” Toole said. “It seems that we'd crawl back into it and then we'd have a couple breakdowns where they were able to extend their lead again.
“But I saw a lot of good stuff from a lot of different guys. Some good individual performances, and some guys look like they are getting a better understanding on how you have to compete. That's what we're going to build on.”
Robert Morris was leading 5-4 when Bucknell (2-1) went on its run to erase the early deficit. Bucknell, which led 39-31 at halftime, led by as much as 23-8 in the first half and 56-41 in the second.
Robert Morris senior Rodney Pryor, who was averaging 22.5 points, didn't score his first point until he hit a free throw with 3:15 left in the first half. He missed his first five shots but still led the Colonials with 15 points.
“It was one of those nights,” Pryor said. “I have to come better than that both mentally and physically.”
The Colonials were short-handed. Freshman guard Matty McConnell (Chartiers Valley), who started the first two games, missed the game after suffering a dislocated left shoulder Sunday at Cincinnati. Toole hopes McConnell will return soon.
Senior Aaron Tate played only five minutes after returning from a leg injury.
Bucknell opened the second half by scoring the first six points, and it had an answer every time Robert Morris would get close. It hit open jumpers or beat the Colonials defense back down the court for layups.
Zach Thomas, who led Bucknell with 19 points, and Chris Hass, who added 18, hit big shots to keep Robert Morris at bay.
“We were out of place in our zone positioning, and we gave up some easy points,” Pryor said. “When we get close, we have to gut up and make stops.”
Robert Morris continued to fight. It pulled within 77-75 with 12.2 seconds left.
The Colonials had chances to tie the score in the final minute but couldn't get the tying shot to drop.
“The intensity was better at times, and a lot of the game we played at the appropriate level that's needed to win,” Toole said. “We just have to be able to make decisions at that level, be able to react at that level, and have to be able to sustain that level for a full 40 minutes.”
Junior point guard Kavon Stewart had 14 points and six assists for RMU. Freshman Isaiah Still scored 13, and sophomore Andre Frederick finished with 10.
Robert Morris travels to Air Force on Sunday as it embarks on a four-game road trip.