Few answers for Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball in 77-60 loss to Robert Morris

The Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball team had few answers for Robert Morris’ AJ Bramah’s presence in the paint. And when the Mountaineers did, Bramah’s teammates on the perimeter filled the void.

Bramah, a 6-foot-7, 185-pound junior forward, scored a game-high 25 points to pace the Colonials, who shot 55% from 3-point range to pick up a 77-60 victory over Mount St. Mary’s before an announced 1,754 at Knott Arena in a Northeast Conference matchup Thursday night.


Bramah, who also collected seven rebounds, made on 11 of 18 shots from the field and nearly doubled his scoring average of 12.7, which ranked second among the Robert Morris players. He was equally effective in both halves, compiling 12 points in the first half and 13 in the second.

“He was a huge factor tonight,” Mountaineers coach Dan Engelstad said. “You could watch it on film, and everyone’s been talking about him. His activity is something that makes them a different team. He’s very active, cleans up a lot. He doesn’t even shoot the ball, but he just has that knack around the basket. I just felt like any second-chance opportunity, he was there, and he’s very explosive, too. They got a lot of dump-downs and drop-offs to him, and he thrives off of tee-ups. He just made us pay every time tonight. He’s an X-factor for their team.”

On the rare occasions when Bramah could not find space in the post to maneuver, he relied on his teammates. He had four assists, and his teammates hit 11 of 20 3-point attempts.

Redshirt senior guard Josh Williams (11 points) and junior guard Jon Williams (nine) had three 3-pointers each, and junior guard Sayveon McEwen (12) and junior forward Charles Bain (six) had two each for the Colonials, who improved to 15-11 overall and 11-2 in the conference and extended their winning streak to six.

“It’s not really hard,” Mount St. Mary’s sophomore shooting guard Vado Morse said of defending the perimeter. “It’s endless ball screens. It’s just one of those games where they were hitting.”

The Mountaineers (10-15, 6-6), who have lost three of their past four after a four-game winning streak, trailed by only three points, 33-30, at halftime. But Robert Morris scored the second half’s first six points when Bramah found Jon Williams for a 3-pointer 38 seconds into play and then sank a layup and a free throw to complete a three-point play.

The teams exchanged baskets, but Bain answered a pair of hook shots by Mount St. Mary’s sophomore forward Malik Jefferson with two 3-pointers, and the Colonials owned a 47-36 advantage before the first media timeout at 15:30.

“They came out and probably hit two threes, and we didn’t score on any of those possessions,” said sophomore point guard Damian Chong Qui, a Baltimore resident and McDonogh graduate who had 12 points, four rebounds and two assists. “That first four minutes is kind of when we usually, especially at home, come out strong and make our push. Tonight, it didn’t work out that way.”

Jefferson paced the Mountaineers with 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, and Morse added 14 points, five assists and four rebounds. But the team lost for the fourth time in its last five games and slid to 10-15 overall and 6-6 in the league.

Engelstad credited Robert Morris with being physical on the boards (37-30 lead in rebounds) and nearly everywhere else.

“That’s as tough a team that has come into our building,” he said. “They were physically tough, they were mentally tough. They had one of those nights where they shot it really well — a combination of them getting on fire and then us not being as locked in defensively as we needed to be. Especially the early part of the second half, they just started making some shots and kind of pulled us out. And once we got the floor space, they were able to get in the paint. It was not our best effort.”

Thursday’s game is the first of a five-game stretch over the next 11 days, and Chong Qui said that Mount St. Mary’s is approaching a pivotal juncture in its season.

“It’s definitely critical,” he said. “Coach talked about it in the locker room. We have a quick turnaround. … Can’t really do anything about this. We’ve got to lock in for Saturday against Saint Francis.”

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