Well, that was a lot of fun wasn’t it. THIS IS MARCH in the words of the great Jon Rothstein.
Robert Morris and LIU played a game for the ages in the quarterfinals of the NEC tournament as the Colonials needed every possession to pull out a one point victory. Kavon Stewart‘s bucket with three seconds left was the difference in going home, and heading to the Mount for the semifinals. Here is the bucket if you missed it.
If you missed the game, you can get a full recap here.
Kavon Stewart won’t let his career end if he has anything to say about it. The senior, with 12 seconds left in the game, stared down the NEC POY after Jerome Frink switched, attacked him off the bounce, and rose up for the game winner knowing it was going in with only three seconds left. Big time players make big time plays.
Stewart wanted that shot, and everyone in white on the court knew it. They still could’t stop him. Stewart has played his best when the lights are brightest. See Bryant NEC Semifinals 15, NEC Title 15, NCAA first round 15, and now this game.
Also of note, Stewart, who flat out STUNK at the free throw line coming into the season, worked his ass off to improve. He went from 60-62-59 percent, to 72 percent this season. He went 7-7 with his career on the line. Stewart finished the game with 11 points and four assists.
Matty Ice: How about Matty McConnell? He should wear number 10 from this point forward! Last year as a freshman, McConnell went 0-4, scored one point and was a total non-factor as the Colonials season ended. He wasn’t having any of that this time around. 7-10 from the field, 6-9 from three, 20 points, four boards, and a huge steal and assist late to give RMU the lead. It was by far (no really by a few miles) McConnell’s best game of his college career.
Out of the gate he hit three quick threes that really allowed RMU to settle into the game. Offensively, pretty much the whole team outside of McConnell got off to a very slow start. Without his efforts, LIU probably builds a nice lead. RMU would love him to continue to stretch the floor by knocking down those open three’s.
Speaking of 3’s: How about Lorenzen Wright Jr! The Juco Transfer looked like an after thought a few weeks ago. Now he’s a key member of the rotation, and knocked down two massive second half three’s that cut LIU’s lead from nine to three. It looked like the Blackbirds were going to take complete control of the game. As a team, RMU shot 9-24 from three, 37.5 percent. On the season, RMU is 31.7 percent from downtown. Talk about a good time to snap out of the funk.
Man’s game: Isaiah Still is a grown ass man. Talk about a tough dude. Toole said postgame that early in his career, Still literally did not want to take charges. Now, he’s one tough SOB! Still guarded the NEC POY, holding him to 10 points on 5-13 shooting. He took a few charges, and took another under a minute that the officials blew. Oh, he also poured in 19 points, collected 11 rebounds, and got to the line a game high 10 times. Sure, he went 1-7 from three (that one was HUGE late in the second half) and missed some bunnies that he would want back, but that’s just the thing. December, January Isaiah Still checks out of the game mentally after those misses and three’s not falling. This Still kept attacking, kept boarding, kept defending.
Some other thoughts: Aaron Tate was a wall. Dude just makes winning plays that don’t show up in the box. Billy Giles provided some steady minutes when RMU went big for a small stretch. All three freshmen were a little overwhelmed it seemed. It was their first postseason game so hopefully they’ll have their feet under them Saturday. Speaking of, up next at MSM next, 2pm.