Stacking wins has been an issue for Robert Morris men’s basketball since joining the Horizon League two years ago.
Andy Toole’s team had not won back to back to back games since their NEC days during the 2019-20 campaign, until tonight.
Robert Morris began the night with nine active players due to dynamic sophomore guard Kam Farris missing his fourth-straight game, but displayed a team effort throughout the night necessary to buck the trend.
The Colonials (5-16, 3-9 Horizon) fought their way to the very last whistle against Green Bay (4-16, 3-8) Saturday night to secure a 62-60 victory and two wins in a row against Horizon League opponents for the first time in program history.
Green Bay was also shorthanded as the team announced Thursday that second-leading scorer Donovan Ivory (11.9 ppg) is no longer a part of the team not even one year after joining the program.
The first few minutes signified the entirety of action, off to a fast start with the Colonials and Phoenix striving to move up the Horizon League standings.
Both teams traded baskets including back-to-back threes from freshman Tristian Jeffries and senior Kahliel Spear.
Jeffries, the only true freshman on the roster, has seen increased minutes in the past four games due to the absence of Farris and transfers creating available minutes.
RMU took an early 7-6 score to the first break of action before the 1982 Robert Morris men’s basketball team was honored on the floor as the first Colonials squad to make the NCAA tournament.
The Colonials controlled the pace throughout the first 10 minutes of play and showed no signs of slowing down, leading 17-14 with under 12 minutes in the half and carrying it for the next few minutes.
The Phoenix had other plans as RMU’s offensive efficiency dropped off in the rest of the half and opened the door for head coach Will Ryan’s squad.
RMU had a 22-16 advantage with 7:14 remaining but the visitors cut into the lead with 3:18 to go at 23-22.
Green Bay took a one-point lead with 1:35 left in the first half 27-26 as RMU’s offense stalled.
The score remained the same going into halftime with the Colonials trailing by one.
Enoch Cheeks performed well on both sides of the floor with five total rebounds and a team-high seven points. Spear and Michael Green III also contributed five apiece.
RMU led for a total of 13:46 during the first half and outmatched Green Bay in rebounds (23-17) offensive boards (6-2), and three-point percentage (36.4%) but only shot 31% from the floor.
Cade Meyer paced Green Bay totaling eight points and Jaspannah Kellogg III scored six. The Phoenix shot 39.3% as a team in the first 20 minutes.
Green Bay came out of the gates fast to begin the second half, but RMU matched the pace and then some to recapture the lead and create breathing room.
The Phoenix trailed 39-31 as their lead quickly evaporated five minutes in.
The Colonials forced the Phoenix into sloppy turnovers and took advantage on the offensive end.
A fantastic pass from Cheeks to Brandon Stone on the left block electrified the UPMC Events Center heading into a media timeout up 43-37 thanks in part to two offensive rebounds.
Enock Cheeks rocked the rim with a ferocious dunk down the lane in a highlight-reel play to help RMU contain the lead with 7:32 in the game and a five-point advantage due to 15 points from Green III.
The margin became even slimmer forcing Andy Toole to call a timeout leading 52-50 and less than six minutes left.
Stone played average offensively and stepped up to hit two critical free throws and was a factor on the offensive glass close to the hoop. RMU needed all the extra possessions they could receive being in late foul trouble. Jeffries and Matt Mayers both collected four fouls with under four minutes remaining.
Two Meyer free throws brought the game into crunch time at 56-55 before Green III stepped up again to knock down a clutch triple.
Emmanuel Ansong was fouled shooting a three but after making only one of three Nate Jenkins hit the two his teammate missed after being fouled and the Phoenix well into the double bonus.
In a 59-58 game and 24.2 seconds left, Stone sank two critical free throws. Green III recorded a steal but was stuffed on the layup attempted in pure chaos as the ball changed hands multiple times. Green Bay kept the ball and Kamari McGee was fouled right away with RMU leading by three. McGee sunk them both, but RMU held on to secure the two-point victory.
RMU shot only 36% from the field compared to over 42% for Green Bay but nine missed free throws for the Phoenix made a significant difference.
The Colonials dominated second chance opportunities 16-2 and only turned it over nine times, leading for 31:32 of the game’s 40 minutes.
Green III paced all scorers with 21 points and Cheeks and Stone both chipped in 11 apiece. Cheeks recorded a double-double adding a game-high 10 rebounds.
Meyer played well for Green Bay and totaled 16 alongside 15 points from McGee and Kellogg III 11.
Robert Morris begins a two-game road trip facing UIC and IUPUI before returning to the UPMC Events Center Feb. 9 against Detroit Mercy.