The RMU Colonial men’s basketball team tipped off their 2023-24 season in Cincinnati, OH when they faced off with the Xavier Musketeers. Winning the game of course, was a long shot, but the Colonials came out of the gates with great tempo, even going on a 10-4 run shortly before the midway point of the first half.
TJ Wainwright knocked down a big three to give Robert Morris a brief 17-14 lead, before XU would go on a big 11-0 run to take control of the first half. RMU, like typically do, would battle bad somewhat and head to the break trailing only by six, 39-33. Seemingly still in the game after Looking at the box score, it was hard to imagine how this one was not a complete blowout by Xavier. The Colonials would knock down only 12/30 shots from the field in the first half, while allowing XU to find the bottom of the net at a 61% clip.
Size was also a bit of an issue for Robert Morris, allowing Xavier to drop 50 points in the paint and seemingly had no answer there. The second half was more of an offensive struggle, just like we saw far too often last season, only knocking down 8/29 from the field, while yet again allowing XU find the bottom of the net 16 of their 30 attempts.
Xavier totally took control in the second half, finishing off RMU, 77-63, Monday night in Cincinnati. This was kind of an odd game, keeping it within arms reach in the first half despite allowing a shooting percentage in the 60s was a positive, it was more of a regression in the second half again, offensively. One other positive for Robert Morris however, Justice Williams scoring a career high 21 and two other Colonials, Markeese Hastings and Stephaun Walker, would score in double figures
Next up, RMU’s home opened where they would welcome local NAIA Point Park Pioneers to the UPMC Events Center, and boy, this was almost a night to forget. Home openers, typically, are a basketball version of homecoming games, you schedule someone of lesser talent. I THINK that is what Robert Morris planned to do, but boy, Jamisen Smith and the Pioneers have vastly different plans on Thursday.
The Pioneers would come out of the gates flying, while RMU just seemingly was sleep walking through the first twenty minutes. The Colonials would head to the break trailing, yes you read that correctly, by five, 31-26. I was scouring social media during this and the reaction from some RMU fans was mainly disbelief and frustration. How would a team, seemingly, hang with Xavier and then come home and get out worked by an NAIA team?
Jamisen Smith and Nathaniel Van gave Robert Morris nightmares all evening long, dropping 19 and 14 respectively on the Colonials. This was quite the back and forth game, Pioneers even built up a double digit lead, which I think finally woke RMU up. Point Park would drop a 16-4 run on the Colonials in the second half before Jackson Last put an end to that with a big three. From that point on, it seemed RMU finally realized who THEY were and who Point Park was.
This was yet another confusing game if you just looked at parts of the stat sheet. Robert Morris would outscore the Pioneers in the paint at almost two to one ratio, while also holding a +16 advantage on the glass. One absolutely abysmal stat for the Colonials however, was free throw percentage. RMU would knock down 10-for15, which was good for a 66% from the line. Also, only getting to the line 15 times in 40 minutes of action was not ideal, Robert Morris needed to use their size more inside.
RMU would put a lid on their opening week Sunday when they traveled to Towson, MD to face off against Towson. The Colonials, yet again lead by Justice Williams, would have four score in double figures, including Stephaun Walker continuing his hot streak, scoring fifteen, but would foul out during a crucial stretch. Colonials would yet again struggle inside, allowing Towson to out-rebound them 40-25 and out-score them inside, 42-18.
Colonials and Tigers would need bonus basketball to decide this one, however, Robert Morris seemingly gave another one away late. RMU’s tight defense would force a shot clock violation, which in turn lead to a 58-56 lead with just under five minutes to play. Robert Morris was not able to close this one out, which if you followed this team the last handful of years or so, is a pretty common theme.
In OT, Towson would knock down four free throws in the last dozen or so seconds to close out the Colonials, 66-62. RMU will continue their road-trip on Friday as the head the Wisconsin to face off against the Badgers.