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Robert Morris opens three-game homestand by dropping third straight

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Playing without recently dismissed forward Elijah Minnie and suspended point guard Kavon Stewart, ‪Robert Morris‬ fell behind early and couldn't dig out of the hole, losing to Central Connecticut State 65-60 on Thursday.

Minnie, a sophomore forwaard, and junior guard Kavon Stewart, were suspended for the Central Connecticut State game for a violation of team rules.

Head coach Andy Toole said Stewart will be back for Saturday's game, but Minnie has been kicked off the team permanantly.

"If you don't want to work or be a part of this program, and if you don't want to be about what this program stands for," Toole said at his postgame press conference, "then you can't be here."

Minnie averaged 12 points and six rebounds per game this season after a very successful freshman year.

The former Lincoln Park star asked for his release last offseason, but ultimately chose to return to Robert Morris.

The Colonials slipped to 6-18 overall on the 2015-16 campaign, including 4-7 in the Northeast Conference, while the Blue Devils improved to 3-19 overall and 2-9 in league play.
CCSU jumped out to an early 9-0 lead in the first four and-a-half minutes of the game, grabbed its first double-digit advantage, 13-2, at the 13:40 mark of the first half and owned its biggest cushion, 36-13, with just 3:04 left before halftime after a three-pointer from Jahlil Nails.
Robert Morris missed its first seven shots from the field in the contest and shot just 25 percent (8-for-32) from the field in the first half. The Colonials were able to trim their deficit to 36-20 at the break thanks to a 7-0 surge that featured five points from freshman guard Matty McConnell and a layup from freshman guard Isaiah Still.
RMU continued its momentum into the second half, closing to within 40-33 with 12:14 remaining after a three-point play from junior forward Conrad Stephens. CCSU weathered the tide, as Brandon Peel scored six straight points to push the advantage for the Blue Devils to 46-33.
McConnell would connect from beyond the arc and freshman guard Steven Whitley scored on a layup to again help Robert Morris get its deficit into single digits, 46-38, but a four-point play by Austin Nehls thanks to a three-pointer and foul by McConnell gave Central Connecticut a 50-38 edge.

Khalen Cumberlander would hit a pair at the free-throw line with 5:40 to play that gave the Blue Devils a 57-43 lead, but RMU had one last charge, using a 12-3 run to close to within 60-55 with 2:56 left. Stephens started the spurt with a layup, while Still scored 10 straight points.
CCSU turned the ball with 1:44 left and the Colonials had a chance to make it a one-possession game, but Whitley's jumper from the elbow was off the mark. The Blue Devils would keep RMU at bay, as Kevin Seymour went 1-for-2 at the stripe, while Nehls hit a pair.
"We had another disappointing first half," head coach Andrew Toole said. "We talked all week leading up to the game about respecting the game of basketball. We didn't respect the game the way we needed to in the first half and dug ourselves too big a hole to climb out of. I'm proud of the fight that we showed in the second half, but we need to adjust quicker at the beginning of games. If the three isn't falling, we need to attack the paint."
Still led all scorers in the game for Robert Morris with 19 points and also added seven rebounds, three steals, a block and a steal. McConnell and junior forward Billy Giles each finished with 13 points, with McConnell dishing out a career-high eight assists and tying a career high with five steals.
Cumberlander paced the Blue Devils with 18 points, while Nehls contributed 17. Also reaching double figures in scoring for CCSU was Mustafa Jones and Brandon Peel, who contributed 12 and 10 points, respectively. Peel registered a double-double thanks to a game-high 17 boards.
Robert Morris returns to action Saturday, Feb. 6, with a 4:00 p.m. tip against Bryant at the Sewall Center.

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