MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Bobby Mo is going dancing.
The No. 1 seed Robert Morris Colonials took down the No. 2 seed Saint Francis Red Flash 77-67 on Tuesday night to capture the NEC tournament championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The sold-out UPMC Events Center on the RMU campus was energized from tip-off until the final buzzer sounded. The home-court advantage showed to pay off for coach Andy Toole and his squad.
The Colonials will head to their first NCAA tournament since 2015. Under Toole, RMU has a 10-2 home record in the NEC tournament.
Out of the gate, Robert Morris was the more determined team, especially on the defensive end. They held the potent Red Flash offense to just 34.5 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from the 3-point line in the first 20 minutes.
RMU also received unlikely offensive contributions from Dante Treacy and Yannis Mendy, who scored 12 of the Colonials’ first 19 points and combined for 16 at the half. The Colonials led 34-25 at the break.
This was the third and final meeting between these two Western Pennsylvania rivals. In the first game, SFU won 86-71, but Robert Morris responded and won the second meeting on Senior Night, 78-68.
The second half started with a Josh Williams 3-pointer from the top of the key, and the Colonials snatched momentum and ran with it. They went on an 8-0 run over just 1:30 of play, and all of a sudden had themselves a 17-point lead only five minutes into the second half. Treacy continued his stellar play on both ends. He finished a floater that hit off the rim at least twice and then drilled a three from the top of the key.
Crowd noise continued to play in favor of Robert Morris as the lead grew. But after Treacy and Williams went to the bench with under 13 minutes remaining, SFU made them pay and cut the lead to 11. Williams checked back in, and on the next possession, he swished a transition three that was set up by his brother Jon’s steal and assist. Then a few minutes later, Treacy checked back in. He responded by making a corner three and a deep two-point jumper on the following possession.
After a small run by SFU, Robert Morris was destined to close the deal. Bramah threw down a highlight-reel putback, and Jon Williams followed it with a corner trey. The RMU students and fans erupted and could taste victory. The Colonials were just a few minutes from going dancing. They closed the deal, and students stormed the court in appreciation.
Treacy, the sophomore point guard from Orlando, FL, finished with a team-high 18 points and five assists. Josh Williams scored 17, Mendy finished with 12, and Bramah added 12 points and eight rebounds.
SFU’s two leading scorers, Isaiah Blackmon and Keith Braxton, combined for 94 points in the first two games against Robert Morris. On Tuesday, Blackmon was held to just 7-18 from the field. The duo still finished the game with 16 and 22 points, respectively.
The Colonials will find out their seed and matchup on Sunday at 6 p.m. during the NCAA Selection Show on CBS.