As a member of Robert Morris’s men’s basketball team, Jon Williams has experienced plenty of success but never an eight-game losing streak.
In a season which has featured multiple shutdowns, five overtime contests and end-of-game lapses, Robert Morris broke though Friday night with a 88-82 double-overtime triumph over Oakland at UPMC Events Center.
“At some point you’ve got to hate to lose more than you like to win,” Williams said of the skid. “When everybody is held accountable, is held to that standard, when everybody gets a taste of what losing is when you get to go out on the floor and contribute, you understand what it’s like. Nobody likes that feeling of losing and nobody likes moral victories either. I think we got in the habit of ‘oh we fought’ and ‘oh we came close’ and that’s not good enough. We had to understand that we don’t get a pat on the back for losing games, you have to take that next step, empty the tank and give it all you’ve got until you get that victory and that clock hits all zeroes.”
RMU (4-11, 3-9 Horizon League) was led by Kahliel Spear’s first double-double as a Colonial with 16 points and 15 rebounds, providing a bench spark. Freshman guard Enoch Cheek recorded a career-high 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Charles Bain added 12 points including two crucial three-point baskets, before fouling out in the first overtime period. Dante Treacy, Jon and Trayden Williams each netted 10 points.
Robert Morris won the bench battle by a 31-5 margin.
Daniel Oladapo led Oakland (8-16, 8-9 Horizon League) with his 25-point, 20-rebound double-double. Oladipo was 8-for-11 from the field and made 9-of-12 free throws. Rashad William contributed 22 points towards the Golden Grizzlies cause. Jalen Moore recorded nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Trey Townsend added 10 assists.
Oakland had a 19-10 offensive rebounding advantage.
“I thought we took a step in the right direction tonight and that’s what you want to see as a coach,” RMU coach Andy Toole said. “I’m happy for these guys because they’ve been trying to work harder, trying to attack some of the weaknesses that we’ve had. It’s good to see them get a little bit of fruits for some of their labor.”
After an uneven first half in which RMU shot 52% from the field and trailed by three points, it was able to increase defensive pressure in the second half, though with 3:44 remaining in regulation, Oakland’s advantage was eight.
That was when Bain made a three-point shot. After some defensive stops, Trayden Williams made a jumper and after earning a steal, Treacy sank a triple of his own, tying the game at 71, which is where the score stayed heading into the first overtime period.
Though RMU was 1-for-5 from the field, again its defense held strong and Jon Williams sank two free throws to send the game into the second and ultimately decisive overtime.
“I thought in the second half and in overtime, we battled defensively,” said Toole. “Position is a huge part of defense, awareness is a big part, but the fight is really the special sauce. We went with a small lineup at the end of regulation and overtimes and those guys fought. Hopefully guys learned a lot today by the way that they were able to battle.”
These two teams play again Saturday at 5 p.m. This contest will be RMU’s last scheduled home contest of the season. To date, Robert Morris is 2-6 at home.