Robert Morris, losers of five or their last six and only one win in 2023, finally bounced back Saturday night when they took on Green Bay.
Yes, they’ve lost three straight, but they have not been totally run off the floor, many of their loses have come with them just plainly falling apart late in games, but RMU did nothing to discount those facts early on. The Colonials, who were carried by their star Kahliel Spear in the first half, began the game on an 8-2 run. Spear would join the “500 Rebound Club” Saturday, and had 10 of RMU’s first 19 points in the first 14 minutes of action.
Outside of Spear, Robert Morris did not get much from anyone else in the first twenty minutes in which they fortunately held the Phoenix to 24% shooting, with help form their 1-for-10 start from the field. What RMU lacked offensively early on, they picked up the pace on the defensive end and the glass. The Colonials held a 17-7 rebound advantage with a little over seven minutes to play in the first half and neither team would knock down a three pointer until Green Bay’s Randy Tucker knocked one down with 5 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Phoenix, somehow, someway kept RMU at arm’s length in the first half and missed what felt like a big time lay up at the buzzer. The Colonials turned the ball over with just seconds remaining to play and Green Bay was unable to capitalize, leaving the floor trailing 19-17. Going to the break, as poorly as RMU played the latter of the first half, still heading to the break leading felt large for a team struggling with confidence.
Green Bay had just one league win coming into Saturday, while Robert Morris only had three. However, this was a game RMU had to force the issue, they had to keep the pedal down and gain some confidence; the first half left Colonial fans on social media quite frustrated. I noticed some frustration with coach Andy Toole, some players, just the overall effort against a team they should be able to more than handle.
It is only mid-January, but the second half felt like one of the most important 20 minutes for the RMU program in quite some time. Could they put a solid 20 together and put away a team they are far more talented than? Would they just go through the motions and just try to “get by” the Phoenix?
Robert Morris, much to the appreciation of Toole and Colonial faithful, came out quickly and jump their lead from just two, up to 16 within the first 5 minutes of play. RMU would keep Green Bay with just one field goal for almost 7 minutes until Nate Jackson made it 38-21 with 13:08 to play. RMU would never look back and only allow five field goals on 26 attempts in the second half and would pull away with a blowout 72-38 victory.
Yes, the first half was abysmal and really left the Colonials frustrated, but what is most important here is how they bounced back. They could have easily just gone through the motions and maybe still squeezed out a victory, but if they have bigger aspirations for the next few months, they had to win this way. No, the Phoenix are NOT in the upper tier or Horizon League teams, but you have to beat teams you are supposed to and a team grasping for anything to look to for confidence, this was massive.
After being on the road since January 9th, RMU is surely looking forward to some home cooking as they begin a four game home stand Friday when Detroit Mercy comes to town, followed to Oakland on Sunday. It’s time for some payback to some teams that got them earlier this season, it is time for RMU to take that next step in the Horizon League from the “new guy” to “THE guy”.