In the previous game, a 69-65 loss to Sacred Heart, Robert Morris displayed “a total lack of respect for the game of basketball,” according to coach Andy Toole. On Monday, the team exhibited the “appropriate” amount of effort.
So, a step up, at least.
The Colonials dropped a close one to Wagner 72-69 on Monday at the Sewall Center to fall to 0-2 in the Northeast Conference (2-13 overall). The Seahawks improved to 1-1 (8-5 overall).
While Wagner led for the majority of the game and by as many as 10 points, the Colonials managed to cut the lead to one point with about a minute to play. But miscues on the next two shots and a failed last-second 3-pointer from senior guard Rodney Pryor sealed yet another loss.
“You can’t play with much less effort than we did Saturday,” Toole said. “But I saw more of it, for sure. There was some more communication on the bench. There was still not enough of it, [though].”
With leading scorer Pryor limited to his lowest point total of the season with just 10 points, junior point guard Kavon Stewart and junior forward, transfer Billy Giles, stepped up. Coming off tying his career-high 19 points against Sacred Heart, Stewart scored a game-high and new career-high 23 points with seven assists and five steals shooting 7-for-10 from the field. Giles netted 17 points and six rebounds shooting 8-for-10.
Rebounds, however, made the difference. Toole said he thought his team defended well and took care of the ball OK, especially in the second half. But the Colonials botched the third key to their game as Wagner, one of the best rebounding teams in the conference, out-rebounded Robert Morris 44-24 and out-scored the Colonials on second chance points 21-9.
“We just come up one or two possessions short because maybe we don’t value some of the details that really, really get you over the hump,” Toole said.
Giles echoed his coach’s sentiment on attention to detail but said overall the team is feeling a lot better than Saturday’s dull showing.
“We definitely had to talk [on the court],” Giles said. “We needed to change the atmosphere. We needed to change our attitudes, stay positive regardless.”
Stewart said he felt the players that took the court against Wagner were a different group than the ones who just showed up for Sacred Heart, with even the bench exuding some energy. And that could be a turning point for the so far meh season.
“We’re not that far,” Stewart said. “We’re not that far away.”