Preview: Men’s basketball begins three-game road trip at Wagner

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Preview: Men’s basketball begins three-game road trip at Wagner

Photo Credit: David Auth

Photo Credit: David Auth

Photo Credit: David Auth

Photo Credit: David Auth

By Austin Bechtold, Contributor

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STATEN ISLAND, NY– Riding a three-game winning streak against teams with below .500 records, the Robert Morris University men’s basketball (12-11, 8-2 NEC) will face another struggling opponent before one of their biggest tests of the season. The Colonials’ three-game road trip begins with a trip to Staten Island, New York, to face Wagner College’s Seahawks (5-15, 2-7 NEC).

RMU currently sits in second place behind Merrimack University (15-8, 9-1 NEC) in the NEC standings, but with the Warriors ineligible for the NEC Tournament due to this being their first season in the conference, RMU is a great position heading into March.

Recapping RMU

The Colonials’ recent homestand ended with two victories against Bryant University (10-12, 2-7 NEC) last Thursday with a 64-54 score and Central Connecticut State University (2-22, 1-10 NEC), 64-57, on Saturday. The matchups were closer than they should have been as both Bryant and CCSU have proved to struggle and find little success all season.

The Colonials trailed CCSU 26-25 at halftime but rebounded after the break and outscored the Blue Devils by eight in the second half to secure the 64-57 victory. RMU’s shooting numbers were atrocious in the first half, shooting 30% from the field and only 8.3% from behind the arc. Those statistics improved as the second half rolled on but the free-throw shooting continued to decline.

The Colonials finished the game 15-25, a 60% clip, from the charity stripe and 9-16 in the second half. RMU must play better on the offensive end and convert critical free-throw opportunities especially against tougher competition that lies ahead.

Scouting Wagner

The Wagner Seahawks host the Colonials after a tough 68-63 home loss last Thursday against Fairleigh Dickinson University (6-15, 4-6 NEC). Wagner has played the majority of their games on the road this season (2-10) but will have the opportunity to improve their 3-5 home record against RMU.

The Seahawks look to bounce back from a blowout defeat at the UPMC Events Center on Jan. 11. RMU defeated Wagner 94-62 after dominating offensively in both halves, shooting 56% from the floor and an outstanding 48% from behind the three-point arc.

The Seahawks, meanwhile, struggled in the first have to get anything going offensively but picked up their play in the second half, although the game was well out of reach. Wagner must play closer to their second-half rather than their first if they hope to pull out this home matchup.

Players to Watch

Josh Williams (Robert Morris)

Williams has had a back-and-forth year in terms of production this season, but he remains a consistent scoring threat and the top option for RMU on offense. He dropped 21 points in the first matchup between these two teams and is currently averaging 14 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game in his last season as a Colonial.

Dante Treacy (Robert Morris)

Treacy, only a sophomore, has had a productive year controlling the offense and pace of play when RMU is on the attack offensively. The team’s primary ballhandler has averaged 8.5 ppg and scored 14 while assisting on six buckets in the Colonials first win over Wagner in the NEC this season at the Peoples Court.

Curtis Cobb (Wagner)

Wagner grad transfer guard Curtis Cobb has been a welcomed addition to the Seahawks roster and has led the offensive charge this season. He leads the team by a wide margin with 17.3 ppg and is shooting a similar mark from the field as he is from three, shooting 40.7% overall and 38% from behind the arc.

Alex Morales (Wagner)

Morales, a junior three-point shooting guard, has played a nice role for Wagner in 2019-20. He averages 13.6 ppg but struggled against the Colonials in the team’s first matchup. He nearly passed his ppg average with 13 in the game but committed four fouls and could not truly find a rhythm.

Prediction

The Colonials travel to Staten Island to face the Wagner Seahawks and will be looking for similar results as the ones they found at home against their NEC foe. RMU will not find as much success on offense as they did at the UPMC Events Center, but they will hit enough shots to take care of business and secure another victory over a winnable opponent. The Colonials will bounce back from two shaky home victories with a confidence-boosting one on the road Thursday in New York.

RMU 78-65