Robert Morris failed to tie a season-high three-game winning streak in an 82-72 loss to St. Francis (N.Y.) in the home finale Saturday at the Sewall Center.
The good news is, the Colonials (9-20, 7-9 Northeast Conference) had already clinched a conference tournament berth entering Saturday’s game. But coach Andy Toole isn’t taking much comfort in just making it.
“I mean, hopefully that’s not the barometer that we’re evaluating our program on,” Toole said. “But it will give us some experience in the postseason, and … there’s been a lot of teams that have beat each other, one through eight. So if you’re in it, I guess you have a chance.”
The Colonials led by as many as nine points in the first half against St. Francis (13-16, 9-7), but solid 3-point shooting from Terriers’ junior guard Yunus Hopkinson put the game out of reach by midway through the second half. Hopkinson scored a game-high 24 points shooting 6-for-12 from the field, all 3-pointers, and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
As a whole, St. Francis shot 10-for-24 from beyond the arc, six of those made in the second half.
“When they started to hit those threes, I think we, as a collective group, we didn’t show enough urgency after they went on their little run,” senior guard Rodney Pryor said.
Robert Morris nearly mounted a comeback with less than three minutes to play when Pryor’s steal led to freshman guard Matty McConnell’s 3-pointer. The team then forced St. Francis into a shot clock violation on the next play before junior point guard Kavon Stewart drew back-to-back fouls. Stewart, however, missed those three free throw shots which would have tied the game at 71-all with about 1:30 to play if he had made them.
But if Stewart exiting the game to throw up in a garbage can shortly after missing those shots was any indication, he wasn’t quite playing to his usual standard. Toole said Stewart fell ill at practice Friday and felt better until the point guard became nauseous again around game time.
“He was not himself, obviously, when he was doing it,” Toole said. “It’s just hard because he had some turnovers that were uncharacteristic that hurt us.”
Pryor led the Colonials with 14 points as the lone senior on senior night while junior forward Billy Giles scored 13 and freshman guard Isaiah Still had 12. Still came off the bench in his first game back from a three-game suspension after violating athletic department policy, and Toole said the freshman wasn’t quite back to his pre-suspension form.
St. Francis’ senior guard Tyreek Jewell scored 22 to join his teammate Hopkinson with 20-plus points.
Pryor said the team “got down on” itself when adversity hit and wasn’t able to stay together as a group and battle back. That’s something he’s hoping to fix heading into the final stretch before the tournament.
“We’ve got to check that and keep our heads up,” Pryor said. “We’ve got two games to finish out to try and give ourselves better position in the seeding.”
The Colonials face Sacred Heart on Thursday and Wagner on Saturday both on the road to end the regular season. Wagner is No. 1 in the conference while Sacred Heart entered Saturday tied for second.