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Penn edges Robert Morris 76-75 in season opener

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Rodney Pryor had 28 points, Elijah Minnie added 15 and 9 rebounds but Robert Morris's late rally fell short in a 76-75 loss at Penn.‪

Philadelphia - Darien Nelson-Henry's layup with 31.3 seconds to play helped lift Penn to a 76-75 victory over the Robert Morris University men's basketball team Friday night in the 2015-16 season opener for both programs.

The Colonials, who erased a 16-point halftime deficit, had an opportunity for the win, but senior guard Rodney Pryor's jumper from the elbow with 3.2 seconds left was off the mark. RMU hustled for the offensive rebound but couldn't get another shot off before time expired.

Nelson-Henry had given the Quakers a 67-52 cushion with 8:17 remaining with a layup off a feed from Antonio Woods, but Robert Morris used a 20-4 run to erase its deficit and grab a 72-71 advantage. Junior guard Kavon Stewart opened the surge by converting a three-point play thanks to a layup and free throw after a foul by Penn's Darnell Foreman.

Pryor then ignited RMU's run with eight points, including a pair of three-pointers. Stewart and sophomore forward Elijah Minnie also connected from beyond the arc for the Colonials.

Robert Morris tied the game with 3:13 to play when freshman guard Matty McConnell converted a pair from the free-throw line and, after a pair of stops, Stewart pushed the Colonials in front, 72-71, by going 1-for-2 at the chalk.

That set up a back-and-forth affair the rest of the contest. Woods would connect from downtown with 1:29 to go to push Penn back in front, 74-72. On RMU's next possession, Stewart was fouled by Foreman on a drive to the basket. Stewart hit the first but missed the second, with Minnie coming up with the offensive carom.

The rebound gave Robert Morris new life, and Pryor was able to capitalize, scoring on a drive through the lane to give the Colonials a 75-74 edge.

Penn called timeout with 53 seconds to go, and out of the break Nelson-Henry was able to convert to give the Quakers their final lead.

"I'm happy and proud of the way our guys fought back in the second half," Toole said. "We just needed one more bucket. We talk all the time about how hard you need to compete in order to win a Division I basketball game. We had some breakdowns, in the first half especially, that really hurt us. But again, we responded really well in the second half. If we can compete like that on a regular basis, I think we have a chance to be a good team."

The Quakers owned a 44-28 advantage at the break thanks to the sharp shooting of Sam Jones, who scored 15 points in the first half on 4-of-7 shooting, including a 3-for-6 performance from beyond the arc. He added two more triples after intermission before Robert Morris mounted its charge to grab the lead.

Pryor led all scorers in the contest, scoring 19 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. He shot 12-for-19 from the field, including 4-for-9 from deep. Also scoring in doubles figures for the Colonials was Minnie, who scored a career-high 15 points while tying for game-high honors in rebounds with nine, and Stewart, who scored 12 points.

Jones led Penn in scoring with 21 points, while Nelson-Henry finished with 12 points and nine caroms. Matt Howard added 16 points for the Quakers.

Robert Morris returns to action Sunday, Nov. 15, with a 2:00 p.m. tip against the University of Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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