Sophomore forward Josh Nebo (Houston, Texas/Cypress Lakes) set career-highs with 23 points and seven rebounds to lead the Saint Francis men’s basketball team to a 77-57 win over Robert Morris on Thursday at the Charles L. Sewall center. The Red Flash improved to 6-10 overall and 3-2 in the NEC, while the Colonials fell to 6-12 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Today’s game will be shown by Root Sports on Tape Delay. That broadcast is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) at 8 p.m.
The Red Flash earned its third straight win over Robert Morris, riding the momentum from last year’s season sweep against the in-state rival. All three of SFU’s NEC wins this year have been by 20 or more points.
Nebo’s career day led the way for Saint Francis. The sophomore hit 10-of-12 shots to establish a new career-high point total, topping 17 points at Duquesne earlier this year. Nebo added eight rebounds and a career-best seven blocks. His seven blocks bettered his previous career-high of six against LIU Brooklyn on February 20, 2016. Nebo’s seven blocks are the most by any NEC player in a game this season. Nebo dominated the second half, with 15 points, making seven-of-eight shots, and five blocks.
Saint Francis placed five players in double figures for the third time this year. It was SFU’s 10th time this year with four or more players in double figures. Sophomore Isaiah Blackmon (Charlotte, N.C./West Charlotte) and freshman Keith Braxton (Glassboro, N.J./The Lawrenceville School) each had 14 points, with senior Georgios Angelou (Halkida, Greece/Lykeio Kanithou) and sophomore Jamaal King (Salisbury, Md./Bishop O’Connell (Va.)) contributing 12 points apiece.
Braxton hit six-of-eight shots, with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Blackmon made 7-of-13 attempts and pulled down four rebounds. Angelou hit all four shot attempts, all from beyond the arc. King had five rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals.
Saint Francis shot 58.5 percent from the field, making 31-of-53 shots, its fourth time hitting over 55 percent this season. The Red Flash hit 7-of-14 three attempts and went 8-of-18 from the free throw line. SFU hit 54 percent of its shots in the first half, making 14-of-26 attempts, including four-of-eight from three. The Red Flash bettered that performance in the second half, shooting 63 percent, hitting 17-of-27 shots, with three-of-six shots going in from three. That was SFU’s fourth half this year shooting over 60 percent from the floor. One of SFU’s biggest advantages in the game was outscoring the Colonials, 46-22, in the paint. SFU also won the battle on the boards, 36-35, and forced 19 RMU turnovers.
The Colonials were held to shooting just 35 percent from the floor, making 20-of-58 shots, and 22 percent from three, hitting 6-of-27 looks. RMU shot 39 percent in the first half and 30 percent in the second half.
Sophomore Matty McConnell led Robert Morris with 15 points, hitting 5-of-12 shots including four threes, while grabbing six rebounds and four steals. Freshman Dachon Burke and senior Kavon Stewart each contributed 12 points, with Stewart adding four rebounds and four assists.
After a first half that featured six ties and four lead changes, the Red Flash headed into the break with a 36-30 advantage. Saint Francis shot 54 percent in the first half, hitting 14-of-26 shots, for its third straight first half over 50 percent. SFU hit four-of-eight threes and four-of-nine free throw attempts. SFU also forced 13 RMU turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
Sophomores Blackmon and Nebo led the Red Flash with eight points each in the first half. Blackmon added three rebounds, while Nebo had two boards, both offensive, two blocks and a steal. King tallied seven points, hitting two threes and a free throw, with three assists, while Braxton had six points, five boards, two assists and two steals. Angelou also had six points, hitting two threes.
An early 9-0 run gave the Red Flash a 12-5 lead with 14:38 to go in the first half. The run included a pair of layups by Nebo, a layup by Blackmon and a three by King.
However, the Colonials responded with an 11-2 run to take a 16-14 lead with 10:16 left in the half. Five different RMU players scored during the run. Clive Allen started the stretch with two free throws, with Burke converting a layup less than 30 seconds later. A three by McConnell cut the SFU lead to two, with a layup by Still and a dunk by Aaron Tate giving RMU the advantage.
Trailing 24-18 with 6:43 to go, a layup by Braxton sparked an 18-6 run for the Red Flash to close the half. Angelou hit threes on back-to-back possessions, both off assists from King, who also hit a three and added a free throw. Braxton and Blackmon each made layups and Nebo hit two free throws.
SFU quickly extended its lead to double digits, 41-30, with a three by King and a layup by Braxton in the first two minutes to start the half. However, RMU responded with seven straight points, a three by McConnell, a layup by Stewart and a pair of free throws by Still, to close the gap to four, 43-17, with 16:13 remaining.
An 11-4 stretch by Saint Francis pushed its lead back up to 11, 52-41, with 9:05 left. Nebo led SFU with five points during the stretch with two layups and a free throw. Blackmon added two layups and King converted a layup. Braxton scored SFU’s next four points to extend the lead to 12, 56-44, with 7:35 left.
A couple minutes later, a 10-2 run by SFU pushed the lead to 71-53 with 3:29 to go. Nebo had two layups and a jumper, making three straight shots, while Angelou hit a three and Randall Gaskins Jr. sunk a free throw. Nebo’s fifth straight make gave SFU a 20-point lead, 77-57, with 1:31 left as SFU cruised to a win.
The Red Flash continues NEC play on Saturday at Mount St. Mary’s. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Knott Arena on NEC Front Row. Mount St. Mary’s is 4-1 in the NEC and 6-12 overall after a 77-70 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday.