Saint Francis head men’s basketball coach Rob Krimmel has been preaching to his team to get off to faster starts. The Red Flash (10-6, 4-1 NEC) did that and more on Thursday night, building a 52-37 halftime lead en route to an 89-80 victory over Robert Morris (10-8, 4-1 NEC) at the PPG Paints Arena. Junior Jamaal King stole the show with 27 points and a season-high eight assists in the win.
“We’ve addressed our slow starts with the team and tonight we came out with tremendous focus,” said head coach Rob Krimmel. “Anytime you play Robert Morris you know they are going to come out and play with energy. We knew we had to match their energy and intensity tonight and we were able to do that.”
Despite a strong shooting start by the Red Flash, the Colonials hung tough in the early going. A Chris Coalmon three-pointer with 6:24 in the first half cut the SFU lead to 35-29 before Robert Morris coach Andy Toole was whistled for a technical foul. Saint Francis converted all four free throws on the trip, capitalizing it into a 12-0 run, to build its largest lead of the game, 47-29.
Inside The Box Score
Saint Francis shot 18-32 (56.3%) in the first half and 31-64 (48.4%) for the game. Robert Morris went 30-65 (46.2%) from the field.
The Red Flash made 7-23 three-pointers (30.4%) compared to 9-32 (28.1%) for the Colonials.
Saint Francis went 20-26 from the line (76.9%) while Robert Morris went 11-18 (61.1%).
Robert Morris outrebounded the Flash 41-33.
Robert Morris edged SFU 40-38 in points in the paint but second chance points were 19-10 in favor of the Red Flash.
Robert Morris committed 16 turnovers to 11 for Saint Francis.
Saint Francis led for 37:58 of the 40 minutes.
King’s 27 points continued his recent scoring tear in conference play. The junior is averaging 24.0 points in five conference games and 26.2 points per game over the last four contests.
Junior Andre Wolford made 4-7 three-point field goals to finish with 22 points.
Sophomore Keith Braxton added 18 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore Deivydas Kuzavas finished with 11 points and six rebounds. All 11 of his points came in the second half.
Saint Francis’s 52 first half points were the most allowed by Robert Morris during any half this season. Only Ohio State (95 points) eclipsed SFU’s 89 total points vs. RMU, and it came in the Colonials’ season opener.
Saint Francis is off to its first 4-1 start in conference play since the 2014-15 season. The Red Flash finished 9-9 in the NEC that season.
Saint Francis has eclipsed 80 points in each of its last four games. The Red Flash are 10-0 when scoring 80 or more points.
The Red Flash moved into a tie-for-first place in the NEC with Robert Morris and Wagner as the trio share matching 4-1 records.
Saint Francis reached 10 wins for the fifth straight season after missing out on 10 wins in the previous three.
Fans need to come out and pack DeGol Arena on Saturday as Saint Francis hosts Mount St. Mary’s (9-9, 3-2 NEC) in a rematch of last year’s NEC Championship game. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.