Shorthanded Wright State hands Robert Morris seventh straight conference loss


Enoch Cheeks goes up for a layup in the waning seconds of RMU’s loss to Wright State. Photo credit: Justin Newton

Tyler Gallo

MOON TOWNSHIP– Robert Morris has come tantalizingly close to its first Horizon League win each of the past three games, and tonight, they looked to finally pull one out against Wright State.

Despite having just five scholarship players dressed for the game, Wright State (6-1, 9-7) once again handed the Colonials (2-14, 0-7 Horizon) a close loss with a 75-73 win.

This is the fourth conference game in a row where Robert Morris has lost by less than seven points. Head coach Andy Toole has been experiencing a lot of deja vu over the past week.

“I want our guys to feel some of that success because I feel that they’re giving the effort, but it’s just five plays where we make the game so much harder for ourselves,” Toole said postgame. “We’re going to keep fighting to rectify those five plays because it’s so hard against a well-coached team like that.”

Robert Morris got off to a hot start with Wright State having a thin lineup, leading 7-4 following a Kam Farris three-pointer.

After a brief lead for the Raiders, Michael Green III continued his solid recent stretch, picking up six points off two Wright State misses.

Farris hit again from outside and came in on a tough layup, putting RMU up 16-11 at the first media timeout.

Wright State found its gear after the timeout, putting up a three and a layup to cut the deficit to two at the under-12.

Brandon Stone grabbed two offensive boards in a sequence that saw RMU reset the shot-clock three times, leading to a foul on Green.

Holden and Basile each traded shots to stake the Raiders to a 32-31 lead at the under-4 media timeout.

Kahliel Spear fought back for the Colonials, grabbing a quick four points to make it a 37-35 RMU lead and force a Scott Nagy timeout.

The Raiders and Colonials went into the break tied at 37. Tanner Holden led the way with 12 points while Farris and Green each had 10.

Wright State shot 53.6 percent overall and an even 50 percent from three while RMU shot 50 percent overall and 37.5 percent from three.

RMU opened the second half with six points to claim the lead, but Basile fought through Matt Mayers to give the Raiders the advantage back at 43-42.

Both teams scored back-and-forth in the ensuing minutes. A Basile layup put the Raiders up by a skinny point at the first media timeout, leading 49-48.

Wright State started to stretch their lead, getting it up to five points by the under-12 timeout with a 6-0 run.

RMU hit a few threes, including a Kam Farris mark from just about half-court, but couldn’t stop the bleeding from the other side. Wright State extended its lead to 63-58.

A timely 7-0 run by RMU capped off by a Farris three, his 20th point of the game, knotted the game at 65.

A miss by Tim Finke, a flamboyant dunk by Spear to get the lead and a Basile foul made the Events Center come alive as RMU got the lead back to 71-67 with 4 minutes left.

Tanner Holden drew a foul late to put Wright State back up by 1 with 51 seconds remaining.

Keaton Norris split free throws from the line after a Michael Green III miss on the other end. RMU had the ball with the shot clock turned off, but hit the ball out of bounds.

Grant Basile iced the game, hitting two free throws, and an Enoch Cheeks layup did nothing to help as RMU fell 75-73.

Basile led the way with 23 points while Farris paced RMU with 20. Toole also noted that Farris, while looking good tonight, needs to iron out his consistency to feel fully comfortable in the offense.

“His skill level and shooting ability are tremendous, and he’s gotten better with defense and toughness that are necessary to win Division I basketball games,” Toole said. “That consistency piece is so critical, it’s the hardest part of anything. When you gain that maturity, then the sky is the limit for him.”

Both teams shot similar, with WSU shooting at 50.9 percent and RMU at 50.8 percent. Each side hit 37.5 percent of their threes.

The Colonials will face off against Northern Kentucky on Saturday to wrap up the homestand.