In a battle between Dunk City and Hoop Township, the main story was former Duquesne guard and Huntington, West Virginia native Tavian Dunn-Martin stealing the show.
Robert Morris men’s basketball hosted Florida Gulf Coast in the program’s third home game of the season, dropping the contest 85-74.
The four minutes set the tone for an energetic night of basketball at the UPMC Events Center, tied at eight heading into the first media timeout.
A packed student section enlivened the building and helped the Colonials get off to a fast start.
The Eagles attempted a majority of their shots from behind the arc led by Caleb Catto and Dunn-Martin, who transferred to FGCU as a graduate student, combining to hit three of seven three-point attempts in the first eight-and-a-half minutes.
Florida Gulf coast took a 15-12 lead into the under twelve timeout as Carlos Rosario was fouled and set to hit the line. Rosario hit one-of-two shots and sparked a mini 5-0 run forcing RMU’s Andy Toole to call his first timeout.
RMU started to falter going into the final 10 minutes of the first half, making poor decisions turning the ball over while also giving up better looks to the Eagles.
Rasheem Dunn was fouled on a fast break and led to a failed opportunity at a three-point play, and FGCU was quick to respond.
Catto hit another three leading into a timeout on the floor with 7:47 remaining in the first half. The senior guard was the most impactful player on the floor, reaching double figures on the shot from downtown.
Two buckets from Michael Green III and Dunn made the building come back alive but was silenced for a moment by a Dunn-Martin triple.
Robert Morris continued to fight and specifically Dunn, whose ability to attack the basket and forced Florida Gulf Coast into a timeout. The Eagles turned it over only seconds into the possession and resulting in another fast-break three-point chance, but Cheeks made the layup while being fouled and missed the free throw.
FGCU became the team making mistakes offensively, but continuing to leave Dunn helped RMU stay in the fight.
When you thought the Colonials had the momentum, the Eagles would strike back. Florida Gulf Coast lead 35-28 with 2:49 left in the half on the backs of Catto and Dunn-Martin, who heated up to score 11 at the timeout.
Dunn-Martin sunk another three once action resumed, hit two-of-three shots from the line after Enoch Cheeks fouled him attempting another.
FGCU moved the advantage over double digits on a few occasions, but two Spear free throws made it a nine-point halftime lead for Florida Gulf Coast 44-35 after 20 minutes.
Dun-Martin torched Robert Morris in the first half, scoring a game-high 16 points thanks to 4-5 shooting behind the arc. The Eagles shot an even 50% from the field and just under 44% from deep, out-rebounding the Colonials 23-11 and 6-1 on the offensive glass.
Dunn guided RMU with both 12 points and three steals. The Colonials weren’t lagging behind FGCU that badly shooting-wise at just under 42% but were outmuscled and outworked on a few critical possessions.
Kam Farris and Spear were shut down in the first half, combining for only six points.
Spear immediately took the floor on a mission to turn the tide, scoring six points in the first four minutes as each team traded baskets. Florida Gulf Coast continued to hold a strong advantage up 51-41 and 15:55 remaining.
Kevin Samuel also played an underrated role in the matchup, recording a double-double early on with 10 points and 10 rebounds, five on each side of the glass.
Dunn-Martin remained a pain in the Colonials side offensively, hitting a heat-check three-pointer from way downtown to push the lead to 14 as the Eagles started to pull away leading 59-45 and 13:33 left in the game.
Florida Gulf Coast continued to lead by double figures 61-48 and 11:53 to play.
“Dunk City” should be rebranded “threes company” and the longball is the largest flair for the dramatic in the Eagles repertoire.
RMU took low percentage shots with Spear and Cheeks sitting on the bench, trailing by 15 at the under-eight timeout. The Colonials lacked the energy that paced them in the early portion of the first half as the building quieted to a loud roar compared to the energy-packed beginning.
The experience and consistent shot-making ability of Dunn-Martin was on full display the entire contest and torched Robert Morris in his homecoming to the Steel City. He not only starred scoring the ball but sharing it as well, leading all players by a large variety with 12 total assists.
Michael Green III knocked down a triple to cut the deficit inside single digits 81-72 as Toole called timeout to talk it over and set up a full-court press.
Florida Gulf Coast hit free throws down the stretch and buried any chances of a comeback the Colonials could offer to win it 85-74.
Dunn-Martin finished the game with game-highs in points (31) and assists (12). Samuel finished with 18 and Catto 14 with the Eagles crushing the boards to a 40-26 differential.
RMU was paced by 20 by Spear, 16 in the second half, and Dunn, Winston, and Cheeks also in double figures. The team shot an even 50% for the game and 39% from deep.
Robert Morris is back on the road Sunday, Dec. 19 facing Bowling Green at 2 p.m.