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Robert Morris drops NEC opener to Sacred Heart

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Robert Morris‬ shot just 24 percent in the second half and Cane Broome scored a career-high 33 points to help lift Sacred Heart to a 69-65 win over the ‪Colonials on Saturday.

In dropping their third consecutive game, the Colonials slipped to 2-12 overall and 0-1 in the league, while the Pioneers snapped a 10-game slide and improved to 2-10 overall and 1-0 in the NEC.

RMU grabbed an early 8-2 lead thanks to five points from junior forward Billy Giles, but Sacred Heart got four from points from Broome and a Quincy McKnight three-pointer to grab their first lead of the game, 9-8, with 14 minutes to go before halftime.

Freshman guard Isaiah Still pushed Robert Morris back in front, 10-9, with a layup, and the Colonials eventually stretched their advantage to 17-11 thanks to five consecutive points from junior guard Kavon Stewart.

SHU responded by putting together an 11-3 surge to grab a 22-20 lead as Broome supplied five points. The back-and-forth affair continued, as Robert Morris grabbed its biggest lead before the break, 34-26, with 52 seconds left before intermission thanks to a 9-0 surge that featured seven points from sophomore forward Elijah Minnie.

Broome, however, pulled the Pioneers to within 34-29 at halftime by canning a triple with just two seconds left. He finished with 18 points in the first half.

Early in the second half RMU grabbed its biggest lead of the contest, 42-33, at the 16:56 mark of the second half thanks to an 8-2 spurt. Senior guard Rodney Pryor scored five points, while Stewart capped the run with a three-point play thanks to a layup and foul from Eyimofe Edukugho.

However, Robert Morris would go almost 13 minutes without a field goal after the Stewart layup, and in between Sacred Heart posted a 24-7 run to grab a 57-49 lead with 5:34 to play. Broome's layup with 3:15 to go gave the Pioneers their biggest advantage, 61-52.

"You have to give Sacred Heart credit," head coach Andrew Toole said. "They played with the proper amount of effort it takes to win a Division I basketball game. From our end, we had a total lack of respect for the game of basketball. Coaches are trying to create energy. You try to motivate, but at some point players need to have personal pride. It's more than mental, too. It's in your heart. You have to care to execute. Coaching this group has been incredibly humbling. It breaks my heart."

RMU had one last charge, closing to within 67-65 with 11 seconds to play after a three-pointer from freshman guard Matty McConnell. Sacred Heart sealed the win, however, thanks to a 6-for-6 performance at the free-throw line from Matej Buovac in the final 54 seconds, his only points in the game.

Broome shot 11-for-22 from the field, including 3-for-7 from deep, and was 8-for-9 at the free-throw line. He also grabbed eight rebounds and recorded three steals. McKnight finished with 12 points, while Edukugho contributed 10 points off the bench.

Stewart tied a career high with 19 points to pace Robert Morris and also added six assists and three steals. Pryor finished with 16 points and nine caroms, while Still contributed 10 points.

The Colonials conclude a two-game homestand to open NEC play Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, with a 7:30 p.m. tip against Wagner.

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