LORETTO — The much-anticipated Northeast Convention showdown between Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.), groups preventing for a No. 1 seed within the fast-approaching NEC Match, wound up being nothing greater than a blowout victory.
For the hot-shooting host Crimson Flash, that’s.
Isaiah Blackmon scored a career-high 30 factors, and St. Francis shot 50% en path to a powerful 86-71 victory Tuesday night time at DeGol Enviornment, sending the Crimson Flash to their ninth consecutive victory in opposition to Robert Morris relationship to the 2015-16 season.
“It’s at all times powerful to come back in right here once they’ve acquired a very good group,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole mentioned. “It’s a great rivalry, and we’ve had some nice video games in opposition to them, some powerful losses. Final 12 months, we have been in two one-possession video games that led to losses. This one didn’t go as deliberate, both.”
St. Francis (18-8, 11-4) prolonged its profitable streak to 6 and moved right into a second-place tie within the NEC standings with Robert Morris (15-13, 11-4), a sport behind conference-leading Merrimack, the first-year Division I faculty that’s ineligible for the convention match.
The Warriors (18-10, 12-3) misplaced at Bryant, 61-52, on Tuesday night time.
Robert Morris and St. Francis have been two of simply three groups that entered the night time having clinched a berth within the NEC Match, which begins March 4. The groups will play a rematch Feb. 29 within the regular-season finale at RMU’s UPMC Occasions Middle.
Mark Flagg had 19 factors, eight rebounds and three blocks, and Keith Braxton added 19 factors and 6 rebounds for St. Francis.
“It was a sport the place we acquired loads of contributions from so much individuals,” St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel mentioned. “It’s a sport we’ll get pleasure from till 12 o’clock tonight (Wednesday morning) after which get again to observe.”
Charles Bain led Robert Morris with 17 factors. AJ Bramah (14) and Yannis Mendy (12) additionally have been in double figures for the Colonials, who have been coming off a controversial last-second 72-71 residence loss to Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday at UPMC Occasions Middle.
After that end result, Toole criticized the officiating crew following a blown name on an inbounds play within the remaining seconds, prompting the NEC on Monday to difficulty him a reprimand and impose sanctions in opposition to two of the three referees working the competition.
On Tuesday, Toole remained calm on the Robert Morris sideline, regardless of watching the Colonials fall behind St. Francis by as many as 23 factors within the second half.
“We have been behind all night time,” Toole mentioned. “We simply weren’t engaged with what was happening. The extra we tried to get some vitality or some life going, it appeared like we have been in quicksand. We simply weren’t in a position to deal with their offense. I’m disillusioned in our vitality. It’s irritating. You may’t have that state of affairs. Guys have gotten to be able to go.”
Robert Morris, which had received six consecutive video games earlier than the loss to FDU, will attempt to regroup in time for a uncommon Friday night time sport in opposition to Mount St. Mary’s at UPMC Occasions Middle.
It marks the fourth sport in 10 days for the Colonials.
“Clearly, you stroll into this type of sport, and there’s loads of stress and anxiousness,” Toole mentioned. “Guys simply need to play effectively. Once you’re enjoying in opposition to a great group that will get off to a scorching begin, a few of it’s simply understanding they need to win the sport so dangerous, it may be a unfavourable.”
A livid first-half tempo noticed St. Francis run to a 41-31 halftime lead behind Blackmon’s 18 factors on 7-of-9 taking pictures, together with Four for six from 3-point vary.
The Crimson Flash, who made 36 of 72 shot makes an attempt, used an 11-2 spurt to begin the second half. A Braxton layup with 5 minutes, 11 seconds left gave St. Francis a 79-56 benefit.
“Braxton and Blackmon are main handfuls,” Toole mentioned. “They’re seniors that appear to be on a mission. They have been able to go from the tip. We gave the impression to be a step sluggish.”
Robert Morris, which shot 46.6% (27 for 58), was outrebounded 40-32.
Robert Morris had received 14 consecutive video games within the collection throughout a seven-year span earlier than the groups cut up a pair of video games in the course of the 2014-15 season main as much as the beginning of St. Francis’ present run of dominance in opposition to the Colonials.
“I feel we’ve a pair extra to catch as much as the streak they’d in opposition to us,” Krimmel mentioned. “Nevertheless it’s a rivalry sport, and we don’t should say an excessive amount of to get our guys able to play.”
Dave Mackall is a Tribune-Overview contributing author.