Flash men post big road win for first place

PITTSBURGH — Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel has been preaching to his team to get off to faster starts, and the Red Flash did that in a big game Thursday night with first place in the Northeast Conference on the line.

Saint Francis built a 52-37 halftime lead en route to an 89-80 victory over Robert Morris at PPG Paints Arena. Junior Jamaal King stole the show with 27 points and a season-high eight assists in the win.

The Colonials came into the game unbeaten in NEC play at 4-0, while the Flash were tied with Wagner for second at 3-1. Saint Francis beat its western PA rival for the fifth straight time.

“We’ve addressed our slow starts with the team, and tonight we came out with tremendous focus,” Krimmel said. “Any time 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 3-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, catapulting it to a 12-0 run, to build its largest lead of the game, 47-29.

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.

Andre Wolford made 4-7 from 3-point land to finish with 22 points. Keith Braxton added 18 points and seven rebounds. 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. The Flash had 60 points in the second half over the weekend against St. Francis Brooklyn.

The Flash are off to their first 4-1 start in conference play since the 2014-15 season.