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Colonials drop home opener to Bucknell

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Rodney Pryor had 15 points and 6 rebounds, Kavon Stewart added 14 and 6 assists but Robert Morris fell to 0-3 on the young season with an 81-76 loss to Bucknell.

Moon Township, PA - Bucknell shot 51.8 percent (29-for-56) from the field and held off a late rally by the Robert Morris University men's basketball team Wednesday night for an 81-76 victory at the Charles L. Sewall Center.

The Colonials dipped to 0-3 for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign with the setback, while the Bison improved to 2-1.

RMU grabbed an early 5-4 lead thanks to a three-pointer from freshman guard Isaiah Still and a jumper from junior guard Kavon Stewart before Bucknell used a 19-3 run to open up a 23-8 advantage at the 10:42 mark of the first half. Dom Hoffman was a key force offensively for the Bison, scoring seven points, while Chris Hass contributed six.

Bucknell kept its advantage in double digits most of the first half before Robert Morris used a 7-1 surge to climb to within 34-28. Sophomore forward Andre Frederick provided four points, including a dunk, while senior guard Rodney Pryor scored three.

The Bison eventually entered halftime with a 39-31 lead and stretched their advantage back to double digits, 45-31, by scoring the first six points of the second half. Bucknell was then able to match its biggest advantage of the game with 13:44 remaining, 56-41, after a three-pointer from Nate Jones. 

"We didn't start the game the way we needed to, but we fought back in the second half," Toole said. "Our starting lineup is an experienced group, and I definitely think they need to help us get off to a better start in games. We were stagnant on offense in the first 10 minutes, and that certainly hurt us."

RMU rallied to trim its deficit to seven, 58-51, with 10:12 left as freshman guard Jordan Lester keyed the run with four points, but each time the Colonials were able to get close, the Bison had an answer. Zach Thomas scored five consecutive points and Nana Foulland converted a layup to push Bucknell's advantage to 65-53, and a three-pointer from Stephen Brown with seven and-a-half minutes to go gave the Bison a 70-57 edge.

Pryor would start an 11-2 spurt with a three-pointer that helped Robert Morris close to within 72-68, but Hoffman and Brown came through for Bucknell, converting layups on back-to-back possessions to increase the advantage to 76-68 for the Bison.

RMU had one last charge, as a jumper from Pryor and a three-point play junior forward by Billy Giles made it 76-73. On Bucknell's next possession Stewart picked the pocket of Ryan Frazier, but the Colonials were unable to capitalize. Stewart missed a layup and RMU was unable to gather the rebound before it went out of bounds, giving the ball back to Bucknell.

The Bison sealed the win by hitting five of their six attempts at the stripe in the final 29 seconds, including a 4-for-4 performance by Frazier.

Thomas paced Bucknell with a game-high 19 points, while Hass finished with 18. Hoffman contributed 11 points off the bench.

Pryor led RMU with 15 points and six rebounds and was one of four players to score in double figures. Stewart finished with 14 points and six assists, Still notched 13 points and five rebounds in his first collegiate start and Frederick scored a career-high 10 points.

"Individually we certainly had some bright spots tonight," Toole said. "I thought (Andre Frederick) played really hard in multiple possessions. He showed some really good signs."

Robert Morris now takes to the road for its next five games, including four games as part of the Air Force Classic. The Colonials open the tournament against the host Falcons Sunday, Nov. 22, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The game will tip at 2:00 p.m. eastern time.

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