After Rough Start, Robert Morris Fights Back Hard in Loss to No. 21 Dayton


Enoch Cheeks (5) led the team with 15 points in the 60-51 loss to Dayton Photo credit: Nathan Breisinger

Ethan Morrison

DAYTON, OHIO — After heading back to Moon Township for two home games, Robert Morris was back out on the road to begin a long seven-game road trip in Dayton, Ohio, as they took on the Flyers Saturday afternoon.

Early unforced errors hurt Robert Morris (2-2) throughout the contest chances in this afternoon’s contest as 21st-ranked Dayton (3-1) defeated the Colonials by a final score of 60-51

Even though Robert Morris fell in this one, it was a tale of two halves for the Colonials as after struggling mightily in the first half of action, they bounced back strong in the second half of action, cutting the Dayton lead down to as much as six.

Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole spoke on the team’s performance against the Flyers on Saturday,

“We battled for all 40 minutes. We tried to defend and execute our formula as best as we could offensively in the first half. I thought that we were on our heels on the offensive side of the ball a little too much and missed a few opportunities to be more aggressive and take a shot and get into the paint. I think that [Dayton’s] size and length plays a part in that and makes it hard to get to the rim but I thought that we executed better in the second half and got some good looks but I am proud of the way that we battled and fought both offensively and defensively on the backboards.”

After putting up 111 points against West Virginia Wesleyan on Wednesday evening, the Robert Morris offense stumbled out of the gates on Saturday against a tough Flyer defense.

The Colonials shot just 1-8 from the field and 0-2 from beyond the arc to begin the game.

Toole discussed the team’s rough start on the offensive side of the ball.

“Dayton is a good team and they have good length and size and they are well coached and do things that disrupt your offense. We have to continue to do a better job at ball movement and I thought that there were times that we roll on the offense and you have to be aggressive in that.”

That allowed the Flyers to take advantage of the rough offensive start for RMU, shooting a modest 50 percent from the field in the first eight minutes of action and 40 percent from beyond the arc to take a seven-point lead at the under-12 media timeout.

Robert Morris also committed a multitude of unforced errors throughout the first half to the tune of six turnovers which allowed Dayton to capitalize on the Colonials’ miscues and jumped out to a 15-point lead with around seven minutes to go in the first half.

But even though Robert Morris had a rough stretch through the middle stages of the first half, they did find their footing towards the ladder stages of the first half as they went on a 9-0 run.

A big part of that offensive push came from Enoch Cheeks as he slashed into the paint and made two layups. Cheeks was one of the beneficiaries of the offense’s turnaround, as he ended the day with 15 points.

Kahliel Spear had 11 points in the 60-51 loss to Dayton (Photo by Nathan Breisinger)

After the game, Toole discussed Cheeks’ ability to fight through adversity and his ability to succeed night in and night out,

“He has really grown as a player and you know that he is going to compete like crazy every single night he is a warrior and he has gotten so much better every year and he is going to continue to do so just because of the way he works.”

Josh Corbin contributed a three-point field goal during that stretch to cut the Dayton lead down to just six points with 2:30 to go in the first half.

RMU went into the locker room down by just nine points after things looked bleak for the Colonials in the middle stages of the second half.

After a rough start to the half Robert Morris finished the first half shooting 50 percent from the field in the final five minutes of action. The defense for Robert Morris also improved as the half went on as they held the Flyers to just 2-12 shooting from the field to end the first half of action.

Down the stretch in the second half, Robert Morris found a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball as they began to work as a more fluid unit by going toe to toe with the Flyers, matching them shot for shot. The Colonials also cut the lead down to just six points in the second half after a stretch where they shot 6-12 in the middle stages of the second half.

Toole discussed the adjustments on the offensive side of the ball that led to their success on that side of the floor.

“We felt like we needed to generate some more ball movement and we were able to do that. We got some good looks and some good shots but they just weren’t able to go down.”

But after Robert Morris cut the lead down to single digits, Dayton jumped back out on a 7-0 run which was accentuated by a Tourmani Camara dunk which gave Dayton a 12-point lead at the under-eight media timeout.

The Colonials did not give up the fight after Dayton spurted back out to a double-digit lead and continued to fight and claw with the Flyers bringing the lead back down to single digits but it was just too little too late as Dayton finished off the game by hitting free throws to seal the deal.

Overall for Robert Morris, they had three players reach double figures as Cheeks finished with 15 points, Spear with 11, and Corbin finished with 12 points in the contest.

RMU also finished the day shooting 34 percent from the field and 32 percent from beyond the arc. For Dayton, they finished the day shooting 42 percent from the floor and 29 percent from beyond the arc.

Robert Morris is back in action on Friday as they begin the Hostillo Hoops Community Classic in Savannah, Georgia as they take on Mercer at 9 p.m.