The Colonials improved to 7-2 in the Northeast Conference and 13-9 overall after their 64-56 triumph of the Sacred Heart Pioneers (2-7 NEC, 7-13 overall) Friday evening at PPG Paints Arena. The win was RMU’s second over the Pioneers in eight days.
Unlike the first meeting between the two teams, Friday’s matchup was a much closer affair. In the first game last Thursday, the Colonials got out to a 14-0 lead forcing the Sacred Heart to play catch-up the entire game. However, Sacred Heart was able to secure a few leads in the first half.
Both teams had trouble holding their leads as the Colonials held a 21-14 lead around the five minute mark of the first half before Sacred Heart fought back later in the opening half taking a 26-24 lead. Freshman guard Leondre Washington’s layup with the one minute mark of the first half allowed for both teams to enter halftime tied at 26.
Much like the first 20 minutes of play, neither team was able to find much wiggle room in the points column. The Colonials held a 38-34 lead after a three-point bucket from freshman guard Jon Williams at 14:37 mark of the second half. However, the Pioneers battled back taking a 46-42 with a little under nine and a half minutes to play in regulation.
The Colonials would go on a 13-0 run starting at a little under six minutes to play.
The sudden urge of energy may have been a result of sudden panic by the Colonials that Sacred Heart had themselves in a good position to upset Robert Morris.
“I don’t know if it was that maybe we got a little bit fearful that Sacred Heart was gonna be able to pull the game out and all of a sudden our urgency level went up, our communication level went up, guys in the huddle were talking about getting stops. You know where for the last couple of weeks it seems like they’ve been talking about who is going to get a shot, or what play where running versus lets lock down and get a stop and a rebound,” said Head Coach Andy Toole.
The Colonials were putting up good shots during ther 13-0 run late in the second half, which powered them to victory but it was the defensive play of Ronnie Gombe during the stretch helped keep the Pioneers from putting the ball in the basket. Gombe finished the game with 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, and one steal.
When speaking of his teams play tonight, sophomore guard Dachon Burke made sure to mention Gombe as key player in the victory.
“He (Gombe) came up with huge blocks down the stretch, good rebounds, he’s played his role tonight very well. He stepped up big tonight,” Burke said.
Sacred Heart stopped the Colonials run with a little under a minute and a half to play but the damage was already done as Robert Morris escaped with the eight-point victory on home turf.
Dachon Burke led the Colonials with 17 points and tied for the leading game scorer with Sacred Heart’s Sean Hoehn. Koby Thomas led all players with 11 rebounds.
This is was a much needed win for the Colonials heading into their match-up Sunday against the Seahawks of Wagner at PPG Paints Arena at 2:00 p.m. Wagner will be coming off a 91-61 victory on the road against Saint Francis University. Both RMU and Wagner will enter Sunday’s game with 7-2 records.
As for the message heading in to the game, Toole believes that his team just has to be better from their last performance against the Seahawks last Saturday at Wagner.
“Obviously we just have to play better. We didn’t play well last week, I think we were really overwhelmed by some of their pressure and some of their physicality,” Toole said.