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Robert Morris Advances to NEC Finals with 66-53 Victory Over Bryant

The Robert Morris Colonials (18-14, 12-6) had an unexpected hero emerge in the form of sophomore point guard Kavon Stewart. His career-high 19 points powered his team over the Bryant Bulldogs (16-15, 12-6), 66-53 on Saturday afternoon.

Kyle Gorcey

In a game that saw junior guard Rodney Pryor go down with an injury in the first half (he returned), in addition to senior guard/forward Lucky Jones and freshman guard Marcquise Reed combining for just 7-19 from the floor, it was Stewart who rose to the occasion.

His career-high 19 points opened the door for the Robert Morris Colonials to play for the NEC Championship next Tuesday, the third time in four years.

"It was the most important performance of his career," said head coach Andy Toole on Stewart's performance.

Toole elaborated on how Stewart responded to how the Bryant Bulldogs chose to defend him in the past, "When we played them the first time here, and I can understand why you would do it, he was the guy they didn't guard."

After watching their five point halftime lead evaporate in the first five minutes of the second half, Stewart assisted on all three makes from beyond the arc as Robert Morris exchanged blows from long distance with Bryant.  But with the game tied at 45 with 10:13 left, Stewart took over.

His three-pointer from the right wing gave the Colonials a 48-45 lead.  Moments later his conversion of an and-one opportunity gave RMU a 51-48 advantage.  Stewart wasn't done there: He picked the pocket of senior guard Joe O'Shea on the teams next defensive possession, drew a foul on senior guard Dyami Starks, and then recorded his eighth assist of the afternoon on a jumper from the right baseline by junior forward Stephan Bennett.

That basket gave Robert Morris a five-point advantage and they never looked back from there; they cruised to a 66-53 victory.

To go along with his career-high 19 points, Stewart had a game-high eight assists, and established another career-high with seven steals.  Pryor had 12 points on 5-12 shooting, and Jones chipped in with 11 on 3-9 from the floor.

Stewart was all over the floor for the Colonials.  "The stats obviously jump off the page at you, but there was so much more that he provided for us today, it was incredible," said Toole after the game.

When asked if this was Stewart's best game, he responded, "Oh yeah, most definitely, by far the best game...I just wanted to come out and be aggressive and I know that starts with me on the defensive end and the offensive end.  I just wanted to come out with tons of energy and be aggressive."

The Bulldogs were led by 19 points from Starks and 10 points from freshman guard/forward Bosko Kostur.  For Bryant, it just seemed like they ran out of gas.  But head coach Tim O'Shea felt the game came down to missed opportunities, "We turned the ball over too much in my opinion, and we missed some key one-and-ones in the second half that we needed to make."

RMU will play the winner between the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers (22-10, 15-3) and the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash (16-14, 9-9); they tipped-off moments after the Robert Morris victory.  The conference championship game will take place on Tuesday night, and will be nationally televised.

Jones had a simple message as to what he'll be communicating to his teammates going into Tuesday nights game, "Stay together."