The Robert Morris Colonials came in on a three-game hot streak on Sunday afternoon when they traveled up north to Cleveland to faceoff against the CSU Vikings. RMU came into this contest with a golden opportunity to improve their standings in the Horizon League and garner a much-needed road win against yet another league thorn. Just when you think things are turning for a better picture for Robert Morris, they go off and make you think again.
The Colonials came out absolutely flat, going over six minutes without scoring a single point, however, Cleveland was only able to build a seven point lead during that stretch as this contest was a site for sore eyes. CSU, coming into the contest at 5-5 in league play, and Robert Morris, at 4-5, would combine for a whopping 20 points at the midway point of the first half. After a 7-0 run from CSU, RMU would finally get on the board after a Markeese Hastings layup, which would spark an 11-2 Colonials run to put RMU ahead 11-9 with 9:58 left.
The Colonials would build off that momentum and eventually build a lead as large as nine twice in the first half after a big three by Josh Corbin and a layup by Hastings with a little over three minutes to go in the first half. A late three by CSU’s Drew Lowder would draw the Vikings to within five at the break, 31-26. RMU, still seemingly in good position to snag a much needed win away from Moon Township faced a very important twenty minutes.
Hastings and Justice Williams Hastings would come out of the gates in the second half to spark the Colonials to their first double digit lead, 36-26, a little over ninety seconds in. Robert Morris would seemingly keep Cleveland State at bay for a large part of the second half, but what has bitten the Colonials so many times over the last few seasons, came back and reared its ugly head again.
With a little over three and a half minutes to play, Tristan Enaruna would score five straight points, to put CSU ahead 57-56 for the first time since early on in the first half. Hastings would quickly follow with two of his team high 18 points to put RMU back in front 60-59 and back and forth we would go in a game that Robert Morris seemingly had full control of.
Chase Robinson would knock down one of the games biggest threes with 1:20 left to play, putting the Vikings ahead, 62-60. Williams would then head to the line for a one and one with :54 left, with a chance to tie the game. Here is where RMU seemingly let this one slip away for good, at the free throw line. Williams would make the first and miss the second, and Enaruna and Lowder would run off four straight points, putting CSU ahead, 66-61.
In the second half, the Colonials would shoot an eye popping 36% from the free throw line; yes, you read that right, THIRTY SIX PERCENT (4/11) and would go 7-15 for the game, shooting 46% overall.
RMU fans have seem this story over and over again the last three seasons or so and some thing has to change at some point. Cleveland State would knock down two more free throws to close this one out Sunday, winning 66-64 and pulling to 6-5 in league play with Robert Morris falling to 4-5.
My question is, when? When is RMU going to learn how to close out close games late, specially ones like Sunday where they for the most part, controlled play and did whatever they wanted. For a Division I basketball team to shoot 46% from the free throw line in a game is absolutely inexcusable at this level. The simple things that so many HIGH SCHOOL teams are good at, the Colonials are subpar. Who is going to hold these guys accountable? Do they have a true leader on the roster? Is Andy Toole going to change things? It sure seems like nothing will change as this is the same old story, season after season. At some point, you have to learn to win these games because RMU has to be the best in the country at losing them.
Robert Morris will stay on the road for two more, heading to Oakland on Thursday and ending the road trip at Detroit Mercy on Saturday.