Boy, was this past week a much needed sight for the RMU Colonials and Head Coach Andy Toole. Coming off a thrilling buzzer beater win against Purdue Fort-Wayne, Robert Morris was looking down the barrel at two “must win” games. Yes, its January and very hard to claim anything a “must win”, but with the season the Colonials are having, they need any light of positivity right now. First of the two would be a home matchup against a known Horizon League thorn for RMU, Detroit Mercy.
Early on it was a game of runs, with the Colonials coming our firing on all cylinders and jumping out to a 20-7 lead of UDM, only to see the Titans come right back with a 16-2 run to take their first lead, 23-22. Markers Hastings would collect a rebound off his own miss and knot the game at 41-41 heading to the half. UDM, coming into this game winless on the 2023-24 campaign, had to feel they had Robert Morris right where they wanted them, given how the Colonials are known to close out games.
The second half was going much the way the Titans wanted, as Jayden Stone and Marcus Tankersley, who would combine for 65 points, Stone a game high 36 on his own, help spark an 11-0 run midway through. It seemed at this point, RMU’s TJ Wainwright wanted to take over for evening. Facing a double digit deficit, Wainwright as well has Hastings, were about to help spark quite an eventful night. Trailing 71-66 with 3:20 left, Wainwright would run off eight straight to knot the game at 71-71 and would then follow with a big three to put he Colonials ahead 74-71. Stone however would draw a foul on Josh Corbin on the three-point line with :26 left. Stone would knock down all three and to OT-1 we would go.
Wainwright would continue his hot streak, following up two Stephaun Walker free throws with jumpers to bring RMU out to a 81-76 lead. Stone would yet again answer, capping off an 11-4 run to put the Titans head 85-83 with :30 to play. RMU’s other star this evening, Markeese Hastings, would knock down two more free throws on his 17-17 night from the line to draw the game again, tied. Tankersley’s layup to give the Titans their first win, rimmed out and this marathon continued on.
The second overtime was much the Robert Morris show, with Wainwright and Hastings combining for nine of RMU’s seventeen points. Stone did all he could to keep the Titans alive in this one, banking in a late three to draw it to 100-99. Justice Williams would knock down a pair of free throws late and a Tankersley late desperation three fell short, giving the Colonials the 102-99 win. This night was not only massive for RMU to keep the positive momentum going, but also historic.
Hastings would break a Robert Morris record of free throws made in a game (16) with his 17, the Colonials as team also set a record with 34 makes in a game. In his post win presser, RMU head coach Andy Toole praised not only Wainwright and Hastings, but had high praise for a few other Colonials, crediting Williams, Chris Ford, and new star Alvaro Folgueiras for the efforts down the stretch.
Robert Morris would take their two game win streak down to Indianapolis, to try and sweep the season series with IUPUI. The Colonials just faced off against The Jaguars on January 4th, dominating them in a 92-48 victory at home. This contest was not that lopsided, but RMU was able to continue their run, carried this time by Corbin who recorded a team high 20 points, followed by Williams and Wainwright, scoring 17 and 16 respectively.
The Colonials will know have eight days until they head on the road for three straight games, starting with Cleveland State to cap off January and will then head to Oakland and Detroit Mercy. RMU with a much needed swing in momentum, has a real chance to climb the Horizon League standings with a good showing. The closer the calendar gets to March, Andy Toole teams have been known to ramp up the intensity, let’s see if this squad has that in them too.