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Second half rally not enough as Robert Morris falls to 1-9

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Robert Morris's second half rally wasn't enough as the Colonials fell to Columbia 78-71 in New York on Monday.

Robert Morris returned to action after over a week off Monday afternoon with a 78-71 loss to Columbia at Levien Gymnasium.

The Colonials, who slipped to 1-9 overall on the 2015-16 campaign, trailed by double digits, 62-52, with 6:35 to play after Lukas Meisner buried a three-pointer for the Lions, one of 13 on the game.

RMU rallied and used a 9-2 run to make it a one-possession game, 64-61, with 2:45 to go. Senior guard Rodney Pryor scored five points, while sophomore forward Elijah Minnie hit a jumper and junior forward Billy Giles converted a layup.

With less than two minutes remaining, Columbia ran down the shot clock, and Maodo Lo broke free and buried his eighth three-pointer of the contest to give the Lions a 67-61 advantage. Grant Mullins eventually stretched that advantage to 70-63 with 44 seconds left by going 1-for-2 at the free-throw line.

Robert Morris had one last charge, as freshman guard Isaiah Still connected from deep to pull the Colonials to within 70-66. Mullins was fouled on Columbia's next possession and converted both of his attempts at the line to give the Lions a 72-66 cushion.

Pryor then went up for a three-pointer but was fouled by Kyle Castlin with 28.1 seconds remaining. He hit all three of his attempts to pull RMU to within 72-69. Freshman guard Steven Whitley followed by picking the pocket of Mullins on the ensuing in-bounds possession and fed Pryor, who missed a three-pointer with 23 seconds left.

Giles came down with the offensive rebound and was fouled, and he promptly drained both of his chances to cut Columbia's lead to 72-71. The Lions were able to get the ball inbounds to Mullins, who was fouled with 21 seconds to go. He calmly hit both of his chances at the stripe to give Columbia a 74-71 edge.

On RMU's ensuing possession, Pryor drove into the lane but lost the handle and suffered a turnover. Columbia sealed the win with four more successful conversions at the chalk, completing a stretch in which the Lions went 11-for-12 at the free-throw line in the final 2:49 of action.

"I'm proud of our guys for fighting back, but it's the same story," head coach Andrew Toole said. "It's a movie I've already seen before. We fall behind by double digits early and then we fight back. We've tried to relay to them that each decision guys make on the court is critical in getting a stop or doing something positive offensively. It's getting to sound like a broken record, but we have to keep hammering it home."

Columbia grabbed its largest lead of the game with 7:41 to go in the first half, 29-16, after a Lo three-pointer, one of five he hit before the break. The Lions eventually owned a 37-27 edge at halftime.

Lo finished with 26 points, hitting nine of his 16 shots from the field, including an 8-for-15 showing from deep. Mullins added 17 for Columbia on the strength of an 11-for-12 performance at the charity stripe, while Castlin and Luke Petrasek contributed 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Pryor garnered game-high honors with 27 points and also added eight rebounds, two assists and a block. Giles finished with 14 points, and Minnie contributed 11 points, five boards and three blocks off the bench.

Robert Morris returns home to the Charles L. Sewall Center Thursday, Dec. 17, for a 7:00 p.m. tip against Lehigh.

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