The Robert Morris Colonials (13-12, NEC 7-5) faced the Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson (8-15, NEC 5-7) Saturday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena. The Colonials looked to end their two-game skid.
The Colonials started out with a new starting line-up — Leondre Washington not making his way onto the floor this afternoon, but instead number one Jon Williams.
RMU came out with a slow start, giving FDU a chance to get an early lead in the first five minutes of the first half and leaving head coach Andy Toole baffled about what to do to get his team to play like the team they should be.
After making a few sub changes, the game seemed to pick up the pace. Freshman Koby Thomas getting a steal and then getting a big dunk to ultimately turn the Colonial team around, and really start to buckle down and play their game.
It wouldn’t stay, however. RMU has consistently struggled throughout this season with maintaining the energy to play 40 minutes of ball, and the same was true today. Even Junior Matty McConnel, who has always been the backbone of this team, was making turnovers that we haven’t seen from him all year.
“We had some players make some uncharacteristic turnovers this year, something we haven’t seen from certain players this year,” said Toole.
This confusion and lack of communication led the Knights to take a six-point lead in the middle of the first half. Causing the team to quickly come apart at its seams.
Robert Morris wasn’t going down without a fight. Freshman Charles Bain making his presence known on the court. Quickly hitting a three to put the Colonials back into this game. The rest of the team built on the momentum and lessened the lead that Fairleigh Dickinson had taken over RMU.
That didn’t mean that they couldn’t grasp the lead though. McConnell was doing everything in his power to keep his team in the game, though. He himself brought the point differential from being down by six points, to only one.
At the end of the half, the score was far from what Toole had hoped it would be after being on a losing streak of two. The Colonials were down by 11 points going into the second half. RMU still struggling to find their niche in this game, something they’ve been struggling with.
“We didn’t come out with good urgency in the first half,” said Toole.
To begin the second half FDU came out not as confident as they had been in the first half, seeming almost timid, their bench almost silent. They worked in the favor of the Colonials, giving them a chance to catch their breath, and some points back, lessening the lead to six instead of the ten they had been down by when they left the court at half.
By the middle of the second half however, Robert Morris was proving to have a hard time capitalizing on FDU’s mistakes. They were only able to cut down the point distance by another point, still giving the Knights a five-point lead with ten minutes left of play.
Defense. Defense has been what haunted this RMU team throughout this entire game, not being able to play crisp traditional defense, and in turn, not being able to transfer any of that over to offense, putting Robert Morris in what looked like a permenant rut.
“We played zone in stretches in a number of games this year, and it’s worked for us in stretches. We really got hurt on the glass,” said Toole.
With four minutes left in the final half of another game at the Paint Can, there was a flicker of hope seen. With two baskets and a quick stop, the Colonials were able to lessen the FDU lead to four points, not letting the RMU fans give up on them yet.
The quiet but deadly leaders of tonight’s game were Dachon Burke and Charles Bain, both being players they we didn’t expect to step up and become the heart of the Colonials, but tonight they did. Burke had 19 points in today’s matchup, and Bain had 15. Only to be outrivaled by Thomas, who left the court with 18.
“We gotta have guys come off the bench and contribute positive energy off the bench,” said Toole.
In the end, the Colonials were not able to come back from the hole they dug themselves into in the beginning of the second half.
RMU will set out on a two-game road swing in Brooklyn, NY., with their first game in Brooklyn on Thursday, Feb. 8 against St. Francis Brooklyn.