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Robert Morris hits the road for key two-game swing | TribLIVE.com
Robert Morris

Robert Morris hits the road for key two-game swing

Jerry DiPaola
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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Robert Morris senior Matty McConnell averaged 10.8 points and 4.4 rebounds last season.

When the Robert Morris team bus returns to the Moon Township campus sometime early Sunday morning, the Colonials will have a good idea how close — or far away — they are from their first Northeast Conference regular-season championship since 2015.

Not only do the Colonials have 407 miles ahead of them as they began their journey Wednesday afternoon from Moon to Emmitsburg, Md., to Loretto and home again, but they have two big opportunities to stake a solid claim to first place.

Robert Morris (13-12, 8-4) enters the two-game road trip to Mount St. Mary’s on Thursday and St. Francis (Pa.) on Saturday tied with St. Francis for first place in the NEC.

First up is last-place Mount St. Mary’s (6-19, 3-9), a team Robert Morris defeated, 62-59, on Jan. 5. Mount St. Mary’s went on to lose seven of its next 10 games, but that night the Colonials needed four points from Josh Wiliams in the final 13 seconds to win the game.

Prior to facing St. Francis, Robert Morris was on a four-game winning streak. But St. Francis’ Jamaal King (23 points), Isaiah Blackmon (20) and Keith Braxton (19) combined to score 62 points in a 76-73 victory. Robert Morris lost two of its next three to fall into the tie with St. Francis (12-11, 8-4).

Actually, four of the Colonials’ final six games are on the road. After the road trip, only four games remain.

But that’s more than enough time for senior guard Matty McConnell (Chartiers Valley) to wedge his way into the Robert Morris record books.

With 1,027 career points and 478 rebounds, McConnell, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, is on the edge of becoming only the 14th 1,000/500 player in school history. He also has 222 career steals while leading the NEC this season with an average of 1.9 per game.

One milestone McConnell is sure to reach: When he steps on the court for the start of the game, he will become just the ninth player in program history to appear in at least 120 games. If he earns his 111th start, he will move into third place all-time, passing Tony Lee (2004-08) and Forest Grant (1980-84).

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.