It wasn’t the cakewalk Saturday that Robert Morris might need anticipated.
Going through an opponent with an NCAA Web Rating of 349 out of 353 Division I colleges, Robert Morris survived its second assembly with Central Connecticut State for a 64-57 victory at UPMC Occasions Heart, the Colonials’ third in a row and fourth prior to now 5 video games.
AJ Bramah scored 11 factors and grabbed 14 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season and third in a row, and Yannis Mendy additionally scored 11 factors to guide Robert Morris (12-11, 8-2 Northeast Convention), which went over the .500 mark for the primary time this season.
“You’ve at all times acquired to count on it to be arduous,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole mentioned, “and in case you get stunned that it isn’t, thank your fortunate stars (for a victory) and prepare for the subsequent battle.”
The second-place Colonials remained a sport behind NEC chief Merrimack, which beat Lengthy Island, 70-59.
Jamir Reed led Central Connecticut (2-22, 1-10) with 19 factors and 9 rebounds. The Blue Devils, coached by former Connecticut star Donyell Marshall, has one win towards a Division I opponent, beating Wagner final week.
But, Robert Morris appeared to wrestle towards the Blue Devils for a lot of the sport earlier than lastly taking management.
“It’s convention play, and you’ll’t take any group evenly,” Bramah mentioned. “They got here out with a number of aggression. They’re an aggressive and bodily group.”
Toole mentioned the Colonials have been lucky to win and singled out his gamers’ defensive effort as a key to the end result.
“Central Connecticut battles you each night time,” he mentioned. “They play fearlessly with a looseness and a freedom, and that’s harmful for opposing groups. I wasn’t stunned the best way the sport went. Donyell Marshall and his workers have achieved a very good job. A number of these guys are younger guys. They’re persevering with to construct for his or her future. A few of these guys are freshmen. They’re studying on the job.”
Central Connecticut was coming off an 84-77 loss at St. Francis (Pa.) on Thursday in a sport the Blue Devils led at halftime by 20 factors.
Robert Morris, which held on for an 89-78 choice at Central Connecticut on Jan. 2, erased a five-point, second-half deficit in its newest victory.
Central Connecticut carried a 26-25 lead into halftime after Ola Olamuyiwa’s buzzer-beating reverse layup, and Robert Morris opened up a 41-35 lead with an 11-Zero run early within the second half.
However not earlier than Central Connecticut had taken a 35-30 lead initially.
Siblings Josh and Jon Williams related on back-to-back 3-pointers through the Colonials flurry. It was the one factors for Josh Williams, the group’s main scorer (14.four ppg), who was held to 1-of-7 capturing.
“I believed he acquired some beauty,” Toole mentioned. “He’s tireless in his work and his strategy. We’ll return and watch movie, and he’ll make the changes.”
Central Connecticut didn’t wilt and regained a 42-41 benefit on Reed’s 3-pointer with 11 minutes, 53 seconds left.
Sayveon McEwen’s 3-pointer 9 seconds later put Robert Morris again in entrance, and the Colonials held on for the win.
“We began the sport with good power and energy on the offensive and defensive facet,” Toole mentioned. “However in case you exhale somewhat bit and also you count on them to not proceed to battle, that’s a mistake.”
The primary half featured six lead adjustments after Robert Morris jumped in entrance 10-2. However the Colonials made 1 of 12 3-pointers within the first half and located themselves trailing at halftime.
“Within the second half, we discovered some extra rhythm and power to our offense,” Toole mentioned. “Our guys’ consideration to element improved offensively, and often if you do this, you get higher-percentage pictures, and we’ve sufficient guys that may make them.”
Junior Jon Williams established a Robert Morris file for consecutive begins with 91. He completed with 9 factors and 5 assists.
“He hit some large pictures to start out the second half,” Toole mentioned. “You’ll be able to’t depart him alone.”
Seven of eight Robert Morris gamers scored not less than 5 factors. The Colonials registered assists on 17 of 21 discipline targets.
“Good groups have a number of guys that complement one another, and so they’re in a position to play off one another effectively,” Toole mentioned. “If we’re going to do something as we head down the ultimate eight video games, that’s the best way we’ve acquired to do it. That’s our recipe for achievement.”
Robert Morris goes to Wagner on Thursday for the beginning of a three-game highway journey that additionally consists of journeys Saturday to Sacred Coronary heart and Feb. 13 to Mount St. Mary’s earlier than returning house Feb. 15 to play Fairleigh Dickinson.
Dave Mackall is a Tribune-Evaluation contributing author.