It had been less than 48 hours since Robert Morris lost at home to the worst team in the Northeast Conference and announced the departure of starter and second leading scorer Elijah Minnie.
Yet the Colonials somehow bounced back to post their biggest win of the season.
Robert Morris beat Bryant 89-71 on Saturday at the Sewall Center, scoring a season-high amount of points. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs, who slipped to 4-8 in the conference (7-18 overall) while the Colonials improved to 5-7 (7-18 overall).
As for how his team made such a big turnaround in so little time, coach Andy Toole said he had no idea how his players found such renewed energy.
“For some reason, they seemed to be in a pretty focused place today, which was nice to see,” Toole said. “I’m not sure what it was, but hopefully it’s something that we can kind of bottle up and keep going here for the remaining six games.”
The win put the Colonials ahead of Bryant in the conference standings and into a tie with LIU Brooklyn for seventh place. The top-eight teams make the conference tournament, and just three games separate seventh place from first.
Toole said he noticed his team had much better communication and attention in timeouts, which made a huge difference in executing plays. It showed in the statistics, as Robert Morris, who had struggled with shooting in the past few games, was 33-for-60 from the field, 4-for-15 from the 3-point line and 19-for-29 from the free-throw line.
The Colonials also led after halftime for just the ninth time all season, the seven-point lead tying a season-high. It was a rare feat for a team that typically plays much better in the second half of games and ends up losing close after big first-half deficits.
Freshman guard Isaiah Still said the team used Thursday’s disappointments as motivation.
“The coaches got on us and told us that we just had to come out with more energy and respect the game,” Still said. “We really wanted this win today.”
Junior forward Billy Giles had his “best overall game,” according to Toole, scoring a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Still scored 22 points while senior guard Rodney Pryor also recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Robert Morris isn’t usually a strong rebounding team but out-rebounded Bryant 42-27 and limited Bryant’s Dan Garvin and Marcel Pettway to just one combined offensive rebound, even though both rank in the top seven in the conference in that category.
Freshman guard Nisre Zouzoua led Bryant with 17 points.
“It definitely felt better today,” Giles said. “We came in here knowing that we were going to have a good day.”