Robert Morris late run comes up short against Wagner
Robert Morris junior point Kavon Stewart played the best game of his career Monday.
He scored a career-high 23 points, had seven assists and five steals, but it still wasn't enough as Wagner (8-5, 1-1 NEC) escaped with a 72-69 Northeast Conference win at Sewall Center.
Wagner, which led 35-31 at halftime, opened up three 10-point leads in the second half. The final came at 50-40 with 11:02 left before the Colonials stormed back behind Stewart, Billy Giles and Rodney Pryor.
“I thought Kavon and Billy were absolutely excellent,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “God, if we get efforts from those two guys the rest of the year, we maybe get ourselves in good shape. We just came up one or two possessions short.”
Robert Morris (2-13, 0-2) got as close as 70-69 with 1:14 left on a 3-pointer by Matty McConnell and had two chances to take the lead in the final minute but couldn't get the shots to drop.
The Colonials had one last chance at tying the score, but Pryor's shot from the top of the key bounced off the rim.
“I wanted Kavon to have the ball down one,” Toole said. “It seemed to be a favorable matchup for the majority of the game. He was making great decisions, getting fouled and finishing.
“I'm not sure where the communication was to get Rodney the ball, though it's not a bad decision. Let's not settle for a shot that's not a great one.”
Stewart said: “I feel it was my fault for not going to get the ball. Down the stretch, there were one or two plays that we lacked details in, and teams are going to take advantage of that.”
Wagner's Mike Carey hit two free throws to push the lead to 72-69 with 6.4 seconds left.
Giles finished with 17 points, Elijah Minnie had 13 and Pryor, who was 1 for 8 from the field in the first half, had 10, eight in the final 11 minutes.
Giles said he and Stewart are starting to develop chemistry.
“I know when he's going to give up the ball, and I'm prepared for it,” Giles said. “I feel we're starting to work well together.”
The Colonials also missed two uncontested layups in the second half.
“I felt like we played with the appropriate effort,” Toole said. “Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short.”
Romone Saunders came off the bench to score 17 points for Wagner. Mike Aaman also scored 14 points as a reserve, Carey had 12 and Corey Henson 11.
Wagner outrebounded Robert Morris 44-24, including 23 offensive rebounds.
“We talk about defending, rebounding and taking care of the ball,” Toole said. “That's our formula to win. We defended relatively well, and we took care of the ball better in the second half.
“But we gave them 23 offensive rebounds and got outscored by 12 in second-chance points and lose by 3. That's extremely frustrating.”
Robert Morris heads to Brooklyn to play at Long Island on Thursday and St. Francis (Brooklyn) on Saturday.