Preview: Men’s basketball attempts to return to winning ways

Photo+Credit%3A+David+Auth

Photo Credit: David Auth

By Austin Bechtold, Assistant Sports Editor

LORETTO, Pa.– After a devastating and controversial loss at the hands of Fairleigh Dickinson (8-16, 6-7 NEC) Saturday afternoon, the Robert Morris men’s basketball team (15-12, 11-3 NEC) looks to put their first loss in seven games behind them.

The Colonials travel to Loretto, Pennsylvania, to face the St. Francis Red Flash (17-8, 10-4 NEC) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night. This is the first of two meetings between the Pennsylvania rivals in 11 days, with the UPMC Events Center hosting the final regular-season game of 2019-20 for Robert Morris.

St. Francis currently sits a game behind RMU in the conference standings, plotting another critical game the Colonials can not afford to lose.

Recapping Robert Morris

RMU heads back on the road after a 72-71 loss on Saturday filled with controversy in the final moments of the game.

With 1.2 seconds remaining, FDU big man, Kaleb Bishop, who tipped home the winning basket just prior, ran into Robert Morris guard Josh Williams as he was coming across the court to receive the inbounds pass.

The obvious no-call resulted eventually led to reprimands for two NEC officials and head coach Andy Toole, but more importantly a Colonial loss.

A.J. Bramah led RMU with 17 points and six rebounds, hitting two clutch free-throws at the time to put the Colonials up one before chaos ensued.

Robert Morris needs to put this loss behind them and continue with the success they found before Saturday’s shocker. RMU was riding a six-game winning streak, their best of the season, and will need another successful run like that to maintain the top spot in the NEC standings going into the conference tournament in March.

Scouting St. Francis

The St. Francis Red Flash are riding a five-game winning streak entering Tuesday and have moved up to third in the NEC in the process.

The team with the best overall winning percentage in the conference, the Red Flash technically are in second with Robert Morris in first due to Merrimack (18-9, 12-2 NEC) being ineligible for the NEC Tournament. St. Francis defeated Mount St. Mary’s (10-16, 6-7 NEC) on Saturday, 70-55, thanks to an impressive second-half performance.

After being down 29-20 at the half, the Red Flash dominated the last 20 minutes and recorded 50 points, outscoring The Mount by a stunning 24 points.

St. Francis has been great on the road this season, with an 8-2 record. SFU has a great chance to continue their winning ways and create even more chaos for the Colonials at the top of the standings.

Players to Watch

A.J. Bramah (Robert Morris)

A.J. Bramah has had a phenomenal first season in a Colonial uniform after transferring from Sheridan Community College. Bramah has played the best of anyone this year, averaging a team-high 13.3 points per game and leading in the rebound department with 8.4 per game. He will once again be looked at off the bench to lead a spark for Robert Morris.

Jalen Hawkins (Robert Morris)

The Sophomore guard has played an increased role in the Colonials’ offense as of late. Also in his first season with the team after transferring, Hawkins has recorded 7.7 ppg and is the team leader in blocked shots. He should play solid defense and shoot the three on Tuesday night.

Isaiah Blackmon (St. Francis)

Blackmon, a redshirt senior guard, has provided a spark of offense every time he takes the floor for the Red Flash. He flashes on the court with his 18.5 ppg and 5.5 boards a game while shooting a spectacular 42.8% from behind the arc, all career highs. Blackmon needs to play like the star he is if St. Francis is to move into a virtual tie with Robert Morris in the standings.

Myles Thompson (St. Francis)

Myles Thompson struggled against Mount St. Mary’s and did not score a single point. The sophomore forward averages 10.6 points a game and will be looked at as an important role player and bounce-back candidate for the Red Flash to pull off a game they can not afford to lose.

Prediction

The Colonials will take on the St. Francis Red Flash with focus and dedication on their minds as they look to rebound from Saturday’s loss. The game will be back and forth the whole way, but the team with the better conference record will prove to be the better overall team as well Tuesday night.

Robert Morris can not afford to drop a second consecutive conference game, and even though this one will once again come down to the wire, the Colonials will find a way this time to get the job done.

RMU: 75-73