Colonials top Bryant, back to .500 in NEC play

I don’t know what happened 10 days ago after RMU got their doors blown off by Mt. St. Mary’s on their home court, but something sure happened.

The Colonials won their third straight game. It was a complete game on both ends of the court. I’ve already typed too many words without mentioning junior Kavon Stewart and sophomore forward Elijah Minnie. THEY ARE BALLIN.

Minnie, coming off maybe the best half of basketball in his short career against CCSU, continued to deliver. He poured in 13 points, 12 boards and six (!!!) blocks. He anchored the RMU defense all game long and was a menace at the rim. Minnie has played maybe his best two game stretch of his RMU career. His play has been a major part o the turnaround. “The team that had the most energy would be the one to come away with the victory. Elijah got us going, and we fed off that,” Toole said postgame.

K is back, and so are the Colonials. 

Kavon Stewart is playing the best basketball of his life. Seriously. The point guard once again was in cruise control. Finding his teammates, getting to the rim at will, playing disruptive defense…and KNOCKING DOWN SHOTS. Stewart hit a few big three’s to help RMU put the game away. He finished with 18 points (team high) and five dimes. He also went 4-5 from the free throw line.

His play did not go unnoticed. “Kavon is getting our guys pumped up and keeping the intensity up. He’s taking ownership of this team,” Toole said.

K looked like the best point guard in the NEC.

The big new coming into the game…injuries. RMU did get Rodney Pryor back. That was big on the offensive end. Pryor was clearly rusty –he even missed backed to back free throws!!!– but provided great spacing and gave the Bryant D something to think about that would obviously not be there without his presence. He also closed the game out from the line, going 7-7 in the games final minutes. Nice to have the senior back. If the Colonials can mix him into what they are currently doing….watch out. He finished with 10 points on 1-4 shooting.

This was the most complete performance of the season from RMU. They only played seven guys, but everyone contributed. A few more takeaways….

RMU has the best trio in the league when Stewart and Minnie are on their game. Those two had to step up with Pryor out. It may have sparked them. Each is carrying more than their fair share of the load on both sides of the ball.

The freshmen and Billy Giles (Juco transfer) are settling in. Matty McConnell hit the dagger three and finished with eight points. He was great defensively and took care of the ball (only one turnover).

Isiah Still is becoming a weapon on the wing. He can knock down the three and attack the rim, but it’s his length and ability to cover so much ground that makes his special. Paired with Minnie, the RMU zone was insanely active on the wing. Andy Toole appreciates the effort. “Our freshmen are coming along. They’re learning. To their credit, they’re putting in extra time to get better”

Giles –who has been solid all year– finished with six points and six boards. You won’t confuse him with Boogie Cousins, but he’s a nice upgrade on the block over recent years. He’s also really tough.

Even Steve Whitley is starting to ball. He is a plus defender, and you can tell his figuring things out in the 2-3 zone.

RMU has now gone three straight games without giving up 60 points. They turned Bryant over 14 times and were able to get some easy transition buckets.

The ball movement was sensational today. Almost all their looks were good shots that came off penetration or top end ball movement.

This team seems to have found their way. As I mentioned before the game, this was a test game. They past with a solid A grade.

Now an even tougher test awaits at Mount St. Mary’s Thursday.

–Lee Kunkel
–@Kunkel5

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