The Robert Morris men’s basketball team began the 2022-23 season in Columbus, Ohio Monday night against Ohio State as the college basketball world woke up from its 217-day slumber, but it wasn’t a friendly started to the season for the Colonials.Robert Morris opened the season on the road for the second straight year, losing a lopsided affair 91-53 to the Buckeyes.
RMU began the night with four returning starters held over from the previous campaign, but only two of them were first on the floor facing the Buckeyes. Beginning his 13th year as the Colonials’ head coach, Andy Toole deployed returners Enoch Cheeks and Kahliel Spear with newcomers Jackson Last, Josh Corbin, and Stephaun Walker. Michael Green III was out of action with the flu.
The Colonials began the game strong as Cheeks scored the first bucket of the year and set the tone for his overall performance. Robert Morris did a solid job keeping pace with Ohio State throughout the first 10 minutes before the Buckeyes began finding a rhythm.
RMU took a 6-0 run into the under-12-minute timeout with a 14-13 lead. A free throw from Matt Mayers pushed the lead to two but would be the last time Robert Morris held the scoring advantage.
Ohio State held a 26-21 score with less than eight minutes in the first half and pressured RMU offensively into poor decisions.
It took three minutes after the break for the Colonials to score again when Cheeks connected on a three, the only RMU points before the under-four media timeout. OSU led 31-24 and 3:56 remaining in the first half
One of the only ways Robert Morris could slow the Buckeyes’ tempo offense was a Colonial losing a shoe to stop play, but Ohio State kept its foot on the gas.
RMU struggled with taking care of the basketball, turning it over six times and trailing 42-28 after 20 minutes.
The Colonials ended the half with no field goals in their final four minutes and 14 seconds of action. On the other end, Ohio State went to the break on a 6-0 run.
RMU shot 9-for-28 (32%) from the floor compared to 52% for the Buckeyes. The three-point woes from last season seeped into the first half of action and haunted the Colonials, making two of 15 attempts (13%).
Isolation scoring led to only three first-half assists from three separate players. Checks tied for a game-high 12 points at halftime and both of RMU’s triples, playing 19 of 20 minutes.
Walker notched six points on two field goals and two free throws as well as three rebounds. Spear chipped in five points on 2-of-6 shooting and three boards.
The Colonials’ struggles from behind the arc were met with the complete opposite experience for Ohio State. The Big Ten tournament team that played the first and second rounds in Pittsburgh last season connected on 7-of-13 three-point attempts.
Forward Justice Sueing scored 12 points including two threes in 15 minutes. Forward Zed Key added six points and five rebounds.
The second half started as poorly as the first half ended for Robert Morris. A Jackson Last three-point play was the only points RMU scored in the first three minutes, being countered by a 7-0 run after the and-one. A timeout on the floor stopped play with 17 minutes remaining and Ohio State expanding the lead to 51-31.
RMU’s deficit remained at 20 points at the under-16 media timeout, 55-35, pausing for a break following a Colonial air ball and shot-clock violation.
Ohio State exploited RMU on the fast break, took smart shots, and smothered the Colonials on the offensive end.
Wright State transfer Tanner Holden finished on a three-point play entering the under-12 timeout and Ohio State extended the lead to 23 after a successful free-throw attempt. Holden scored 12 points and shot a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.
The evening was a game of runs on either side. RMU experienced frequent dry spells from the floor of over two minutes which Ohio State capitalized on almost every occasion. Ohio State completed a 9-0 run inside a 14-2 differential to continue padding the lead.
Josh Corbin struggled in his Colonial debut after scoring 27 points in the exhibition game against Alliance. Corbin connected on his first bucket inside seven minutes remaining in the game prior to being 0-for-8 from the floor and missing all five of his three-point shots. He finished 1-of-12 overall and 0-for-6 from three.
Ohio State cruised to a 91-53 victory and outscored Robert Morris 49-25 in the second half.
One bright spot for Andy Toole’s squad was Walker. The 6-foot-7 forward from Washington, D.C. recorded 10 points and a team-high six rebounds. Cheeks led the team in points (17) and made three-pointers (three).
The Colonials made 20-of-63 field goals (32%) and struggled mightily from deep, making only four three-pointers in 24 attempts (17%).
Ohio State dominated RMU both offensively and defensively. Sueing led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Key connected on a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds) while Brice Sensabaugh broke out in the final 20 minutes with 12 of his 17 points in 17 minutes coming in the second half.
The Buckeyes shot 56% from the floor and 10-of-21 (48%) from three. Robert Morris was outrebounded 48-27 including 34-14 on the defensive glass.
Spear ended the day 1-of-6 from the free-throw line in 27 minutes, totaling seven points and five rebounds.
Upper St. Clair walk-on Tanner O’Grady played in the final two minutes and registered his first two collegiate points.
Robert Morris debuts at the UPMC Events Center Wednesday night for the 2022-23 home opener against Pitt Greenburg. The game tips off at 7 p.m.