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Robert Morris falls to Wagner in NEC Tournament

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Robert Morris shot just 32 percent and went 0-13 from 3-point range as the Colonials season came to an end with a 59-50 loss to Wagner in the opening round of the Northeast Conference Tournament.

In last season’s NEC tournament, the Robert Morris Colonials came into the postseason as the No. 2 seed, beating Wagner, Bryant and St. Francis Brooklyn en route to an NCAA tournament berth.

However, the tables have turned on the Colonials, as the very team they dismantled twice in as many games last year now holds home-court advantage throughout this year’s tournament. The No. 1 Seahawks hosted No. 8 seed Robert Morris a mere four days after defeating the Colonials in the final game of the regular season.

In this NEC quarterfinal match-up inside Spiro Sports Center, Wagner (21-9, 14-5 NEC) took its revenge from last year’s game and held off a Robert Morris (10-22, 8-11) comeback, winning by a score of 59-50.

As has been a prevalent issue all season long, the Colonials struggled to score against the physical man defense played by Wagner. They struggled to get into their sets on offense, and when they did, there wasn’t much time left on the shot clock to get a good look at the basket.

In the first half, RMU shot an abysmal 23 percent from the floor on 4-of-17 shooting, while it did contain Wagner enough that its 30 percent mark almost matched that of the Colonials. And since the ball was not being moved around into open space, Robert Morris forced up four contested 3-pointers, missing all of them in the half.

Despite their lack of scoring, though, the Colonials’ active zone defense forced five Seahawks turnovers, which kept the game close at halftime. Wagner led at the break, 24-19.

The second 20 minutes brought much more scoring, as both teams started to knock down shots from outside the painted area. 

After a quick Seahawks 12-3 run in the first five minutes, RMU came right back with a 7-0 run of its own. Two made free throws by Colonials forward Billy Giles, followed by a block at the other end and an Isaiah Still layup tied the game at 42 apiece with just under six minutes to play in the game.

Robert Morris could not take advantage of the momentum and take the lead, however.

Wagner guard Aaren Edmead then delivered the dagger three minutes later, when he converted on back-to-back shot attempts – both tough, contested – to give his squad the 52-44 lead with 2:30 remaining.

Edmead finished with eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, all of which coming in the second half. However, the star of the night for Wagner was forward Mike Aaman, who exceled on both ends of the floor in the contest. He scored a team-high 12 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked five shots.

The leading scorers for both teams were held quiet for the majority of the game, as both RMU’s Rodney Pryor and Wagner’s Mike Carey did not have a field goal until about halfway through the second half. Pryor finished with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting, while Carey was just shy of a double-double with nine points and 14 rebounds.

The quarterfinal loss means that this will be just the second time in eight seasons that Robert Morris will not reach the NEC final, which also means the Colonials will be unable to defend their NEC championship from a year ago.  

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