Sans Still, RMU ends non-conference play with a #gritty win

By @C_Cappella

Now that my heart is out of my throat, I feel composed enough to write a game recap. Its been awhile! Let’s see if I still know how to do this.

Robert Morris rode on their normal assortment of rollercoasters in Wednesday’s game against Buffalo, played at PPG Arena. RMU was without Isaiah Still, the team’s leading scorer. Mind you that RMU is already one of the 11 worst teams in the country when it comes to points-per-possession.

So what happened? Of course the Colonials found a way. How, you ask? I’m not entirely sure. Robert Morris built up a 12 point lead in the first half on the back of some really sound defense, which forced turnovers and didn’t give foul, and by protecting the ball on offense. Lorenzen Wright – welcome back to the rotation! – also contributed with some massive 3-point shots.

All of the goodwill RMU built up with that 12 point lead vanished as the end of the first half came and the second half started. In the blink of an eye, a 37-25 lead was a 45-40 deficit. “We’re gonna lose this game by 15,” I said foolishly to no one.

But RMU just kept fighting. They were down 48-42 with 11 minutes left, but Wright hit another three (he went 4-6 from deep) to keep things steady. They were down 54-49, but Kavon Stewart drilled a 3 right in his defenders eye.

A pair of Aaron Tate and Kavon Stewart free throws (yes, you read that right, RMU made four straight free throws) and a Tate slam extended the RMU lead to six with a minute remaining. Buffalo’s Blake Hamilton had a 3-pointer rim out as time expired to give RMU a 74-71 victory.

Notes!

-My god Kavon Stewart. He was awesome. Just awesome. My timeline and text messages, usually full of Kavon Stewart slander, were quiet tonight. 18 points, 7 assists, 7-10 from the line, 3 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 34 minutes. Peak Kavon. he was the best player on the floor.

-Without Still, it was going to take a team effort. Dachon Burke, inserted into the starting lineup with Still out, went a rather unimpressive 2-8 from the field but was uber aggressive on both side of the ball. I loved it. He had three steals and seven rebounds in the win.He reminds me a little bit of David Appolon with just the way he hustles.

-Buffalo is built with a team full of tight ends. They did a good job on the offensive glass. But when push came to shove, Dachon Burke had a massive, tough defensive rebound with the score tied at 62 and 2:45 remaining. Braden Burke had another one on Buffalo’s next offensive possession. It was some serious toughness.

-Speaking of Braden Burke, he did this tonight. I know the overall shooting numbers aren’t great, but when I am on my deathbed, my last breath will be me muttering about how much I love his footwork. It’s so polished. He’s going to be a stud. He saw 21 minutes of game action with Billy Giles and Roberto Mantovani in foul trouble.

-I started calling Manotvani “The Greek Eek” today. Nothing is all too smooth about his game. But hey, four rebounds (two offensive) and just one moving screen call on him tonight. He really didn’t play bad at all.

Aaron Tate did this tonight. Nine points, seven boards and two steals for the Ox. Ho-hum.

-I doubt Lorenzen Wright is going to go 4-6 from 3-point range every night but if he can bring any sort of consistent outside game to this offense, it’s going to help a ton. Matty McConnell continues to be awesome at just about everything outside of shooting. If only there was a way to combine a player.

-Crunch time defensive lineup: Stewart-McConnell-Burke-Tate-Burke

-Robert Morris from the charity stripe tonight: 26-38, including 10 of their final 12 over the last 2:15.

-Buffalo was a tournament team last season that returned a majority of their players. That’s a really, really nice win. The guys should be feeling good about themselves heading into conference play. It won’t be easy, but there’s clearly some sort of solid talent here. Consistency will be an issue. But the Colonials are capable of beating any NEC team on any night.

 

 

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