Winners of two in a row, Robert Morris men’s basketball began a two-game road trip Thursday in Chicago against UIC.
The Colonials entered action second to last in the Horizon League standings with UIC only two spots ahead.
RMU (5-17, 3-10 Horizon League) and UIC (8-12, 4-7) showcased a wild night of offense with the home team coming out in top 80-75.
The Flames and Colonials went back and forth up the floor trading baskets throughout the first 20 minutes. One key moment was an 8-0 run for UIC to make the score 30-19 with six and a half minutes remaining.
Robert Morris played well despite struggling on the road the entire season. RMU received contributions from two specific players, one in the starting lineup and another off the bench.
Kahliel Spear paced the Colonials with 12 points thanks to 5-of-7 shooting along with six rebounds. Justin Winston also scored 10 and knocked down two of three triples.
Zion Griffin led all scorers with 13 points shooting 5-for-10 as UIC recorded a 47% mark in the first half. Kam Farris returned for his first action in four games but was limited and played into early foul trouble.
RMU shot 46.4% overall and only turned it over five times compared to four for the Flames. The rebounding numbers were also balanced with UIC holding the advantage by one.
Overall, the first 20 minutes set up the second and a battle to the final few possessions. Winston continued his hot streak when play resumed, guiding RMU to its first lead.
RMU was successful earning trips at the free-throw line in a high scoring game.
UIC fought their way back halfway through the half with Kevin Johnson and Damaria Franklin stepping up for the Flames.
Michael Green III and Enoch Cheeks were also noticeable on the floor, but Winston and Spear kept the Colonials in it the entire way.
RMU fought tough and was down 71-70 with just over three minutes remaining, but lost its grasp on the pace in the final minutes.
UIC held on and made critical free throws when they mattered most to secure victory.
Four players totaled over 14 points for the Flames. Johnson led with 18 and Franklin (16), Griffin (14), and Jalen Warren (15) off the bench guided UIC to victory.
UIC finished shooting 47% and 10-for-25 from three-point territory.
RMU had the backing of Spear for a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds. Winston finished with 19, Green III had 16, and Cheeks 12 for the Colonials in a strong effort.
Robert Morris outrebounded UIC and shot a higher percentage but only held a two-point advantage at one point and couldn’t put its foot on the gas to move across the finish line.
The Colonials are back in action Saturday at 12 p.m. at IUPUI.