Another close loss for RMU that featured, yet again, falling asleep the last 5 minutes of the game, to a VERY depleted Wright State team, I think some folks around the Colonials really started to ponder if they were every going to find that elusive league win.
Losing 75-73 on Thursday, seeing Kam Farris drop a nice little 20 piece and was joined in double figures by 3 other Colonials, I sat watching, still wanting, NEEDING more. RMU shot just a hair under 51% Thursday, while also forcing Wright State into 11 turnovers, but still, the last 5 minutes bit the Colonials yet again.
Robert Morris faced a chance to tie the ball game with :18 left, but, as has happened far too often this season, they had that dreaded turnover that has bit them numerous times. Taking a loss to a depleted team is bad enough, but when you also went on an 11-2 run in the second half to erase a 7-point deficit and lose the way they did, that is just poor fundamentals.
Covering RMU for the HoriZone Roundtable, I have been waiting for that first league win to cover, I have also been waiting for Kahliel Spear to 100% take over a game. Well folks, it FINALLY happened on Saturday versus Northern Kentucky. This team, after losing Rasheem Dunn, is a desperate need of someone to step up and be the bell cow for this squad. Before the season began, Spear was one player who I looked to for that role and I know some of the coaches did too. Now, he did not necessarily play poorly on Thursday, he just came out of the gates pretty slow.
That all changed on Saturday; he was a man on a freaking mission. Spear came out of the gates on absolute fire as did RMU. Robert Morris hit their first 3 shots from the field and held the Norse to just one bucket in the first 5 minutes of action. The first 10 minutes may have been the best RMU has looked defensively this season and the first half was most definitely their best to date. Robert Morris closed the first 20 minutes of action shooting 59%, holding NKU to just 41%. Spear had 13 points, three boards and one assist; my man clutched up! RMU went into the locker room nursing a 35-28 advantage.
Now, any Colonial fan at halftime was pretty worried about the final 20 minutes because as we have seen, they have yet to FINISH a game. Would tonight be the night they put a complete game together? You can’t expect them to shoot almost 60% the whole night, but they would sure need to keep at it on the defensive end; they did just that.
Northern Kentucky was only able to muster up 11 buckets on 34 attempts while only hitting 1-of-14 from beyond the three point line; There is that defense Andy Toole has been looking for! Now, back to the man of the hour, Spear. Going through stretches this season hot and cold, finally, he took over like every Robert Morris fan has been dying for. While only scoring eight points in the second half to end the contest with 21, he came up with eight boards and one incredible dunk that, if SVP does NOT put on Sportscenter, we are going to have a problem.
RMU, finally, collected their first Horizon League win, closing out NKU 74-64 behind Spear, Green III and Kam Farris all scoring in double figures; Spear with a double double.
In a post game text exchange with Robert Morris assistant Jimmy Langhurst, I could sense the relief of the win. I was hoping that Northern Kentucky was his scout, but it was not but I told him I would still sing his praises.
Now, its time to build off of this and let it snowball into some type of run. RMU heads on the road to face Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday and then it’s off to Ohio to face Cleveland State on Sunday.
Look for bigger things from Farris and Spear as this season goes on, if they are to make any noise in the coming months, those two are going to have to carry the bulk of the load.