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Seahawks Gain Sole Possession Of First Place In The NEC By Capping Off Weekend Sweep With A 77-64 Win At Robert Morris

(Cooper, Wagner)

Moon Township, PA – Sophomore guard Blake Francis came off the bench to score 21 points, keyed by five made three-pointers, while senior guard JoJo Cooper (Concord) added 17 points and nine rebounds, as the Wagner men's basketball completed a sweep of its two-game Western Pennsylvania trip with a 77-64 over Robert Morris in gaining sole possession of first place in the Northeast Conference (NEC).
 
On the heels of Friday night's impressive 91-61 win at Saint Francis U in a game televised live nationally on ESPNU, this marks the first time the Seahawks have earned a road sweep of the Red Flash and the Colonials since January 25 & January 27, 2003, when the Seahawks bested RMU, 101-80 and SFU 84-72. That 2002-03 season is also the one and only time that the Green & White won the NEC Tournament to claim a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

In overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit, the Seahawks have now won four straight games in improving to 15-6 overall and 8-2 in the NEC. The Colonials, who entered today's play in a first-place tie with Wagner at 7-2, fall to 13-10 overall, 7-3 in league play.
 
The four consecutive Wagner wins have all come over the two Western PA foes - Saint Francis U (73-64 on 1/18, 91-61 on 1/26) and Robert Morris (62-49 on 1/20, 77-64 today).

Today's win did not come easily as the Seahawks needed to overcome a 42-32 halftime deficit. Wagner quickly got back into the game by exploding out of the gates in the second half on a 10-0 run over 2:20 which featured two buckets from senior guard Shack Scott and a pair of three-pointers by Francis.
 
Senior forward Shack Scott, who was the Seahawks' third double-digit scorer today with 10 points, jump-started the second-half with a jumper, which was followed by a Francis three-pointer which came off of a Cooper feed. With 18:24 left in the game, Scott hit a driving layup off a Francis assist before Francis capped the 10-0 spurt with a three-pointer in transition, again off a Cooper assist, which tied the game 42-42 with 17:40 remaining.

RMU regained the lead on a three-pointer by Matty McConnell, which made it 45-42. Not only was this lead short-lived, as Francis answered with two straight three-pointers to give Wagner a 48-45 lead, McConnell's three-pointer also gave Robert Morris what would prove to the the Colonials' last lead of the game.

Francis' back-to-back three-pointers kick-started an 11-0 Seahawk run which was capped by yet another Francis three-ball at the 9:03 mark that staked Wagner to a 59-48 lead.
 
A late 6-0 run by RMU, keyed by four straight points from McConnell, got the Colonials to within seven points with 2:36 to play, but freshman guard Chase Freeman countered with an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 73-63 with 2:24 left and the Seahawks were able to comfortably hold on from there.
 
Redshirt junior forward AJ Sumbry finished with eight points and five rebounds while redshirt junior guard Romone Saunders, who poured in a career-high 30 points in the SFU win on Friday, added seven points to go with a game-high 12 rebounds. Freeman, who gained his fourth straight start, wound up with six points on 2-2 shooting, 1-of-1 from three, and 1-of-1 shooting from the free throw line.
 
Leondre Washington led RMU with 20 points while McConnell added 19.
 
Sumbry kicked off the scoring for Wagner by making 1-of-2 from the line before RMU embarked on an 8-2 run over the next 3:26 in taking an 8-3 lead at the under-16 media timeout.
 
Freeman stopped the RMU run with a corner three-pointer to make ii an 8-6 game. Following a Freeman block, Saunders was able to locate Scott along the block for the contested two-point layup which tied game at 8-8.
 
RMU built up a ten-point lead, 31-21, after outscoring the Seahawks 23-13 over a 10:24 stretch in which the Colonials found their range from beyond the arc, converting on 5-of-7 from deep.
 
Washington led the way for RMU with nine points during this spurt while McConnell added five points. The Seahawks were held to 6-of-17 shooting over this run and 0-of-3 from three-point range.
 
The visitors responded with a 10-2 outburst of their own, in large part to Cooper serving as the catalyst, scoring eight points over a 1:15 frame, in bringing the Seahawks within two, 33-31, after a Davis layup off a feed from Saunders.

The Colonials closed out the first half scoring nine of the final ten points in taking a 42-32 lead into the intermission. The Green & White were held to just 39.4 percent shooting from the floor while hitting just 2-of-10 from three-point range. 
 
RMU hit on 60.0 percent of their shots in the opening frame, while converting on 8-of-13 from three-point range (61.5 percent). Both teams grabbed 18 rebounds in the opening period while Wagner was able to score 22 of its 32 points from inside the paint. 
 
Wagner begins the final month of the NEC regular season with three straight home contests, beginning on Thursday, February 1 as the Seahawks welcome the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils to the Spiro Sports Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and will be streamed live on NEC Front Row as Joey Wahler will have the call courtside.


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