Preview: Colonials look to get back on winning track against Pioneers

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Preview: Colonials look to get back on winning track against Pioneers

Photo by David Auth

Photo by David Auth

Photo by David Auth

By Adam Melluso, Contributor

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MOON TOWNSHIP–The Robert Morris men’s basketball team (8-10, 4-1 NEC) looks to get back into the win column on Monday evening when they host the Pioneers from Sacred Heart (10-8, 3-2 NEC) for a 5 p.m. showdown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the UPMC Events Center.

There is also an added bonus to the contest, as it will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network. Before these two sides square off for the first time this season, let’s take a look at where both teams are and who can be a difference-maker for each side heading into a red-hot matchup.

Recapping Robert Morris

The Colonials looked to improve their winning ways on Saturday afternoon against a newcomer to the Northeast Conference in the Merrimack Warriors (11-8, 5-1 NEC), who were looking to charge ahead in their opening year in the NEC after a surprising start to conference play that sees them now sitting at 5-1.

Though the Colonials put up a valiant effort, battling back to tie the game numerous times, especially in the second half, the Warriors proved to be too much in the end and pulled off a minor upset over RMU on their home court, beating them 53-49. Jaleel Lord led Merrimack with 14 points in the contest, while for RMU it was Josh Williams with 9 points who led the red, white, and blue, and who went 2-for-4 from the free-throw line in the loss.

Previewing Sacred Heart

The Pioneers, like the Colonials, took a slight hiccup to their record in NEC action on Saturday, falling in a tough road contest against the Red Flash of St. Francis (12-5, 5-1 NEC) 72-65. E.J. Anosike led SHU with 13 points in the loss, going 2-for-3 from the three-point line and grabbing 12 rebounds. For the Red Flash, Keith Braxton dominated on offense, putting up 24 points and snagging 10 rebounds in the win for his side.

Players to Watch

RMU: Josh Williams and AJ Bramah

Williams has been one of the hottest scorers for the Colonials as of late, notching an astounding 14.9 points per game for a whopping total of 268 points over the course of the season so far in 18 games played.

When it comes to Bramah, not only is he known for being able to bang the boards and get to the tight areas for added points, nabbing 200 total with 11.8 points per game, he is also known for his incredible dunking power if he is left with open space.

If the Pioneers cannot contain these two offensive threats early, RMU will have a distinct advantage in earning valuable scoring in order to come out with a crucial victory to keep fighting for first place in the conference.

Sacred Heart: E.J. Anosike and Koreem Ozier

As previously noted, Anosike has been one of the key prolific scorers for the Pioneers all year. The junior has led his team with 15.7 points per game and is a force to be reckoned with if he gets any space open to let the ball fly.

As for his scoring counterpart in Ozier, he is right behind him at 14.7 points per game and has a strong percentage of 74.3% free throws.

If RMU cannot contain these two dynamic offensive weapons, they will make the day a long one for the Colonials as they will not hesitate to run up the score and put the game out of reach early when they get the chance.

Prediction

I feel that the Colonials will be able to fight off a strong game by the Pioneers and will be able to get firmly back on track in their pursuit of first place in the NEC, taking down SHU 72-61.

The Williams brothers along with Bramah will find their shooting touch, something that was a bit off in the Merrimack game, and will solidly lead RMU to a much-needed victory in front of their home crowd at this tight portion of the schedule in the race for points in the NEC.