The Colonials began the their brief two game home stand this past week initially welcoming the surging and surprising, first place Green Bay Phoenix. Colonials came back home to the friendly confines of the UPMC Event Center after a split of their four game road trip, which both started and ended with wins.
Coming off their season sweep of Detroit Mercy, it was time for some big boy basketball as the shockingly first place Green Bay Phoenix rolled into Moon Township on Thursday. Green Bay, 10-3 coming in, controlled much of the play early in the first half on the back of Noah Reynolds, doubling up RMU 24-12 midway through. A late RMU surge on a 15-6 run, capped by a Stephaun Walker dunk would help close the game before Noah Reynolds would end the first half with a late layup to send the game to the break, 32-27.
The normal cast of characters for Robert Morris, Markeese Hastings, who is quickly moving himself into some all league consideration, and Josh Corbin, would play vital roles in the second half. RMU seemingly had absolutely zero answer all evening for Reynolds, however, who would lead all scores with a game high 32 on 10-21 shooting. Hastings would open the second half with back to back threes, seemingly ready to strap the Colonials to his back yet again, giving RMU a 33-32 lead. Green Bay, like they have done all season, would answer right back on both ends of the floor, with an 11-3 run and holding Robert Morris without a bucket for over three minutes.
The last three minutes would see much of a back and forth type game, with Green Bay seemingly unable to put RMU away. Corbin would knot the game twice in the last three plus minutes, knocking down a floater and two free throws with under :30 to play to the the game at 65. The Colonials, finally were able to get a late stop in a close game, when Noah Reynolds missed a potential game winner and Foster Wonders was unable to finish the put back. In a game that I don’t think many were going to give RMU a chance in, including myself, they finally didn’t choke one away late; YET.
Overtime was filled with back and forth action early, with two lead changes and two ties, until Green Bay’s Cummings and Ruedinger would go back to back and seemingly put the Phoenix ahead for good. The Colonials would still find a way to let another close one slip away, but not without some fight from Hastings and Corbin, who would combine for 48 of RMUs 76 points.
To end their brief two game homestand, RMU would then welcome the Milwaukee Panthers to Moon Township Saturday afternoon in, at least for early February, felt like a MUST WIN for Bobby Mo. The Panthers, two games ahead of RMU in the Horizon League standings, appeared to be getting the good, detail, oriented Colonials this afternoon.
Trailing by six with just under 13 minutes to play in the first half, Hastings would yet again strap RMU to his back, helping spark the Colonials to a 13-4 run to give RMU the lead. Robert Morris would throw another run at Milwaukee late in the first half with a 10-0 outburst and would head to the break, leading 36-27.
The Colonials, who threw maybe their best defensive effort of the season at the Panthers, were able to keep them at bay, holding them to just under 34% shooting for the game and out rebounded them 42-31. RMU also saw four players score in double figures, lead of course by Hastings with 21, bookended by Jackson Last, who tallied 11 points coming off the bench.
I have said it all season, there is talent on this roster when it wants to come out, this team just battles the “incosistency” bug far too often. It was nice to be the Colonials clamp down on defense, which has been the main staple for Andy Toole teams. We are approaching March, there is some tough sledding ahead for Robert Morris, but if they can put forth an effort like this each game, they have the ability to make some noise. The question still remains, however, who is this RMU team exactly and what version of the Colonials will decide to show up? The one Milwaukee had to deal with on Saturday or the one that has seemingly caused Toole to grow grey hair?
Next up for Bobby Mo is a quick trip to the lovely state of Ohio to face off against Youngstown State on Wednesday and then off to Wright State on Saturday.