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Pryor leads Robert Morris to first NEC victory

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Rodney Pryor scored 21 points and corralled 11 rebounds as ‪Robert Morris‬ won their first Northeast Conference game with a 70-60 win over LIU Brooklyn Thursday night.

Robert Morris snapped a four-game losing streak and in the process picked up its first road win of the 2015-16 campaign Thursday with a 70-60 win over LIU Brooklyn at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

The Colonials closed the game with a 15-4 run to grab their first Northeast Conference victory of the season and improved to 3-13 overall, including 1-2 in league play.

Martin Hermannsson pulled the Blackbirds within 55-54 with 5:18 to play by connecting from beyond the arc, but on RMU's next possession sophomore forward Elijah Minnie connected from deep to give the Colonials a 58-54 lead.

Trevin Woods answered Minnie's three-pointer with one of his own to again make it a one-point game, but Minnie came through again, drilling a three-pointer from the wing to make it 61-57 in favor of Robert Morris with three and-a-half minutes left.

The Colonials held a 61-58 cushion until the 2:05 mark of the second half, when freshman guard Isaiah Still drained a three-pointer to push RMU's advantage to 64-58. Hermannsson turned the ball over on LIU Brooklyn's next possession, with freshman guard Matty McConnell coming up with the steal for Robert Morris.

Out of the steal, RMU almost turned the ball over, but Minnie came up with the loose ball, drove the paint and supplied a thunderous dunk to give the Colonials a 66-58 lead with just 1:18 to go. Robert Morris sealed the win with four free throws in the final 59 seconds.

"I told our guys in the locker room after the game that's the type of performance we need if we're going to be a successful basketball team," head coach Andrew Toole said. "We had more guys on the floor tonight that we've had the entire year. If there was a loose ball, we got on the floor and went after it. We sacrificed our bodies, and it was great to see. It's all about effort."

Tied, 31-31, at halftime, Robert Morris hung an 11-4 surge in the opening four minutes of the second half to grab a 42-35 lead. Still scored five points, while sophomore guard Kavon Stewart hit a three-pointer and senior guard Rodney Pryor converted a three-point play thanks to a dunk and free throw.

LIU Brooklyn responded with a 10-2 run to grab a 45-44 advantage, and the Blackbirds eventually owned a 49-46 lead with 10:46 remaining after a Zanna layup. Pryor came back to tie the game, 49-49, with a three-point play thanks to a layup and free  throw after a foul by LIU Brooklyn's Joel Hernandez.

Pryor would give Robert Morris the lead for good at the 9:40 mark of the second half with a three-pointer from the top of the key.

"Rodney's responsibility is to come out with the proper energy so everyone else can be comfortable," Toole said. "He did that a lot better tonight. He was active on the glass and really carried us offensively during the middle stretch of the second half."

Pryor scored a game-high 21 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds to notch his fourth double-double of the season. He shot 7-for-14 from the field, including 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. He has now eclipsed the 20-point plateau in six consecutive road games as well as eight of his last 11 contests.

Minnie added 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench for Robert Morris, while Still tied a career high with 13 points while corralling five boards.

Jerome Frink led LIU Brooklyn with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Also reaching double figures in scoring for the Blackbirds was Hermannsson and Trevin Woods, who each scored 10 points.

RMU concludes its swing through Brooklyn, N.Y., Saturday, Jan. 9, with a 4:00 p.m. tip against St. Francis Brooklyn at the Pope P.E. Center.

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