MOON TOWNSHIP– Those that attended this afternoon’s men’s basketball game at the People’s Court got to witness perhaps one of the best games this year in the Northeast Conference.
Robert Morris University (15-12, 11-3 NEC) took to the court against Fairleigh Dickinson University (8-16, 6-7 NEC) in a conference matchup. Robert Morris did not get off to a great start as they trailed 14-6 early on in the contest.
“We came out of the gate really slow, but what I love about this team is that every one of them have each others’ back, and they all rally each other and pick each other up,” said Coach Andy Toole.
After the sluggish start, Sayveon McEwen and Jalen Hawkins came off the bench and hit multiple threes to get RMU back into the game.
Both teams went on to trade the lead nine times in the first half, and RMU would gain the lead going into halftime.
However, they were held scoreless for the last three minutes of the half, which led to a one-point lead for the Colonials as the teams headed to their locker rooms.
In the first half, not a single Colonial hit double-digit points. “None of the guys had double digits, but that goes to show you that our guys like to distribute the ball and get different looks for everyone…the nice thing about this team is that we don’t have one star, everyone loves to contribute and that goes to show you that everyone like to get involved,” said Toole.
Coming into the second half, the game picked up significantly. The half started out with both teams going back and forth, trading baskets, and it was really exciting to watch as both teams were big making plays.
The turning point of the half occurred when RMU’s Yannis Mendy dunked on a would-be FDU defender, flexing near the player afterward. The ref was quick to give a technical foul.
FDU’s player would make both free throws, and Mendy would make his after the play.
“The quick technical foul was really not necessary. If you’re gonna give someone a tech, then give it to both players because you are giving the other team free points to get back into the game.” said Toole in response to the technical foul.
As the game was nearing the end, RMU had a seven point advantage, but FDU made it a one-point game at 70-69.
On RMU’s final possession, Mendy would make the go ahead layup with eight seconds left. After a missed shot, FDU took the ball back down the court for a layup that put them up 72-71 with 1.2 seconds remaining.
What happened next would leave everyone in attendance in shock. FDU’s Kaleb Bishop, on the inbound pass for RMU, ran into Josh Williams of RMU, but the whistles remained silent as Jon Williams would get the ball to Dante Tracey. His shot would miss.
Toole was livid after the no call and tried to get an explanation from the officials to no avail. After the game was over, both coaches got together and agreed that it should have been a foul.
When Toole was asked about his thoughts on the no call, he said, “It is pathetic that the game had to end like that on a no-call. It’s one thing to go and ask for an explanation, but the only thing I got was ‘we talked about it’. Talked about what? Even the coach came up to me and we both agreed that it was a foul. If that play happened at any point during any possession of the game, it would have been called. The fact that a Division-1 ref misses that call after I went up to them and said ‘look for the foul’ and they still made no call, it’s ridiculous.“
Being fairly upset, Toole went on to say, “The fact that my guy gets a tech for flexing, but you don’t call a foul for someone literally trucking into you is insane. I did not know trucking into people was legal. I will acknowledge the fact that my team did not play defense when they needed to, but still, that foul needs to be called.”
Ultimately this no call would help FDU prevail on the road, 72-71, over the Colonials, ending their five-game winning streak. RMU will look for redemption on the road this Tuesday against St. Francis University (17-8, 10-4 NEC).