Some teams live and die by the three-point ball. On Friday, RMU’s offense suffocated by it.
Robert Morris began the Hostilo Hoops Community Classic in Savannah, Georgia Friday night. The Colonials started the three-game tournament against the Mercer Bears in the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
Mercer opened the door for the Colonials in the final minute – RMU trailed by three – but it wasn’t enough in a 72-66 defeat. RMU (2-3) missed all but one of the three it attempted, finishing 1-for-17 (5.9%). Andy Toole’s team remains winless away from the UPMC Events Center.
Neither team played exceptionally well in the first half. Mercer (3-3) jumped out to a 29-14 advantage before RMU closed the half on a 13-0 run. The Bears led 29-27 and shot significantly better than RMU. Mercer made 12-of-27 (44.4%) field goals and only attempted five triples, making three of them.
Both teams failed to take care of the basketball to the best of their liking. Mercer turned it over nine times and committed 11 fouls. RMU was not much better at handling the ball, turning the rock over on seven occasions. Michael Zanoni paced the squad scoring nine on 3-for-8 shooting and two threes. Kamar Robertson added six points and four rebounds.
The Colonials relied on 10 points and five rebounds in the first 20 minutes from graduate forward Kahliel Spear on 3-of-7 shooting. Enoch Cheeks also contributed an early nine points as RMU shot 11-for-30 (36.7%) and did not make a three, missing all 10 attempts from behind the arc. RMU fought its way back into the game at various points and never let the Bears slip away until the end.
Kevin Martina started the game as Josh Corbin came off the bench. Martina only played four minutes but Corbin continued his cold streak. Mercer did not make a field goal in the final 3:49 minutes of the game but finished the deal at the free-throw line.
Spear and Michael Green III stared for RMU when no one else’s light shined noticeably bright. He ended the night totaling team highs in points (24), rebounds (9), and baskets made (9-for-14).
Green battled the flu to start the year and produced his best offensive output of the season. The second-year Colonial guard shot an impressive 9-for-11 from the field, totaling 19 points, two rebounds, and three assists.
Corbin was the only Colonial to make a three but missed another three attempts. Cheeks missed all six of his tries but tied Spear in rebounds. The third-year guard scored in double figures at 11 points.
After no player reached double figures through the first half, four did so to finish the game for Mercer. Robertson paced the squad scoring 27 points, Zanoni and Jalyn McCreary recorded 14, and Luis Hurtado Jr. was the final starter in plus figures registering 13 points.
The Bears were efficient from free compared to their opponents but not overall field goals. Mercer shot 42.1% from the floor and made 5-of-10 (50%) three-pointers to sink the Colonials’ ship. The Bears narrowly failed to cover the seven-point spread.
RMU finished the game with 16 turnovers, one less than Mercer, and still looks for its footing as a collective group to close out matchups. The Colonials play Evansville in game two of the classic at 5 p.m.