The NEC isn't on national television too often. On Friday night, two of the conferences best teams, the Robert Morris Colonials and the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers, squared off on ESPNU. St. Francis senior point guard took advantage of the rare opportunity and turned the night into his own personal showcase. His 21 second half points helped his team overcome an eight-point deficit at the half and a 68-63 victory.
Neither team was able to create much separation in the first half. The Terriers took a brief five-point lead at the 14:24 mark, but things were tied at 15 by the under-8 media timeout. Brent Jones picked up his second foul going into the timeout and RMU proceeded to go on a 9-2 run until a layup by senior forward Lowell Ulmer stopped the bleeding with just 3:40 left in the half.
A three-pointer by freshman guard Marcquise Reed, a dunk by junior guard Rodney Pryor, and a jumper by senior guard/forward Lucky Jones sent Robert Morris into the half leading, 29-21.
SFC came out of the half determined to immediately get back into the game. Senior forward Jalen Cannon was held scoreless in the first half, but his aggressiveness early in the second half netted him three points via a free throw and a layup on his teams next possession. The Colonials held a 36-31 lead at the 16:13 mark when Jones decided to leave his mark on the game.
He scored the next 11 points for St. Francis that included three makes from beyond the arc and a pretty reverse layup to power his team to their first lead of the second half, 42-41. The Terriers would go up by as many as five before a tip-in by junior forward Stephen Bennett gave RMU the lead again at the 6:51 mark, 54-53.
SFC had an unlikely player emerge down the stretch, as freshman guard Glenn Sanabria connected on two three-pointers that served as bookends of an 8-0 run which gave his team the lead for good. Although, his two missed free throws that could have potentially iced the game for St. Francis gave life to Robert Morris.
However, Jones shut the door on any potential comeback by calming draining two free throws with just 38 seconds left on the clock to seal the victory for his team.
He led all scorers with 23 points on 7-10 from the field including 4-5 from three-point distance. His six assists were also a game-high. Junior forward Amdy Fall swatted six shots to lead all players.
Three players reached double-figures in the scoring column for the Colonials led by 18 points by Reed. Jones led all players with nine rebounds and became the programs all-time leading rebounder. However, it was a bittersweet night for Jones, "It's a good feeling but at the end of the day I really wanted this win."
On why his team came up short on Friday night, Pryor stated, "We just didn't have the sense of urgency to win the ball game." Head coach Andy Toole was in agreement during his post-game press conference, "The tougher team won the game tonight."
Toole was highly complimentary of Jone's performance, "He's probably the best point guard in our league right now."
The Terriers will have another road test on Sunday against the St. Francis (PA) Red Storm (10-6, 4-1). RMU will look to rebound on Sunday at home against the Sacred Heart Pioneers (7-11, 1-4).