New Year, new Colonials? RMU ends three-game skid with dominating victory

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The calendar could not turn from 2023 to 2024 fast enough for Robert Morris and head coach Andy Toole, I am sure. The RMU Colonials had quite a troubling start to the 2023-24 season to this point, coming into the new year with only two Division I wins; SFU and 2023 March Madness darling Farleigh Dickinson. Coming into the matchup Wednesday for the IUPUI Jaguars, RMU, would begin a very important four game home stand to start 2024.

The Colonials put a stamp on 2023 with a disaster of a loss at Green Bay, where RMU would actually take a two point lead to the locker room at halftime, only to fall 78-61. TJ Wainwright would lead all Robert Morris scorers with 18, while Green Bay’s Noah Reynolds was seemingly unstoppable this evening, dropping a game high 27 points on 10 of 17 shooting.

RMU, who again took a two point lead to half, seemingly fell asleep at the wheel defensively in the second half. Markeese Hastings would give the Colonials a 40-39 lead at the 16:00 mark, which would be the last time they have that luxury. Green Bay would go a 19-3 run to pull ahead 58-43 with 9:00 left and would ultimately fall 78-61.

Colonials would now welcome the 1-4 (Horizon League) Jaguars to the UPMC Events Center to kickoff 2024 on Thursday. Jaguars, coming into the matchup splitting their last two conference games, beating Detroit Mercy and also ending 2023 with a loss, falling to Cleveland State. This one could also be deemed the Alvaro Folgueiras coming out party.

Folgueiras, coming into the game with only one other career game scoring in double figures, would drop 12 points on 5-6 shooting, 2-3 from beyond the arch. RMU would fall behind early, but Folgueiras and crew would go on a 15-2 run, to ultimately put them ahead for good. TJ Wainwright would knock down a jumper late in the first half to put the Colonials up by 20, and they would, for the third straight home game, score 40 points in the first half.

For once, RMU did NOT make this one interesting and would seemingly dominate for majority of the afternoon in this one. Balanced scoring was the key here, with seven players scoring in double figures. Robert Morris would also dominate inside, scoring 50 points in the paint, using their size and quickness advantage finally. Offensively, RMU would also have arguably their best shooting performance, knocking down 61% for the game, making 19 fields goals each half.

Robert Morris would need this type of performance, dominating on both sides of the floor, also holding IUPUI to just 32% for the game and 20% from three. So many times this season, the Colonials were only ever able to put together a good half, and you never knew which half it would be. Would the play themselves out of the game early, only to exhaust all their energy to make it competitive in the second half? Would they play a solid first half only to choke away a game late (see, Milwaukee, Cornell, Delaware and so many others).

The biggest question now is, where does RMU go from here? Can they FINALLY build off some positive momentum and turn this season around or is it just a “one off” and they again, fall back into bad habits? Folgueiras finally coming out with this solid performance should give Toole another weapon to use. Robert Morris now faces three games in the next ten days, all at home starting with Wright State on Wednesday.

It is simply time for the RMU and Toole to wake up and somehow save this season. The Colonials have talent and should be far more competitive than they have been, let’s see if the a fresh start, new year, is just what they needed.

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