It was a battle to the end for the Robert Morris Colonials. In the end, the same two contributors could not carry the Colonials over the finish line.
RMU faced Oakland in Rochester, Michigan Thursday night inside the Athletics Center O’rena.
Andy Toole’s team began the conference matchup poorly, turning the ball over on numerous possessions en route to a 13-0 hole. RMU (8-10, 3-4 Horizon League) recovered and led during the final minute, but could not finish the job in a 69-65 loss to Oakland (7-11, 5-2). Oakland has now won five games in a row and five of its seven games at home.
The Golden Grizzlies led 17-3 before the light turned on for Robert Morris. RMU embarked on a 30-19 run to close the first 20 minutes of play and narrow the gap to three points at the break. The Colonials fought back with 3:18 remaining in the first half to grab their first lead (29-28). The first three minutes and change foreshadowed a back-and-forth second half finishing at the very end.
Robert Morris fought back to trail 36-33 at halftime thanks to the production of Kahliel Spear and Enoch Cheeks. Spear shot 5-of-8 from the field, including both triples he attempted, for a team-high 12 points. Cheeks totaled 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists. The best was yet to come for the RMU dynamic duo.
RMU compiled a 41.4% field-goal mark but 5-of-15 (33.3%) from three. The Colonials did suffer 10 turnovers but prevailed in assists (10-5), rebounds (20-13), and offensive boards (7-4).
The Golden Grizzlies registered a 44.4% overall clip and connected on two additional triples than Robert Morris in the same number of attempts. Blake Lampman paced Oakland with 15 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting, firing away from downtown to lead all scorers.
Trey Townsend added nine points and three rebounds. Rocket Watts – while owning one of the best names in college basketball – made two field goals and scored seven points.
Robert Morris and Oakland traded blows in the second half with the score tied at 39, 41, 47, 53, 59, 61, and eventually 65 inside the final minute. Cheeks finished a four-point play after being fouled behind the arc, capitalizing on the chance to put RMU up by two (65-63).
It would be RMU’s last lead. A Townsend dunk tied it up at 65 and following a Spear turnover, Townsend added two free throws with another pair to seal the deal.
Townsend dominated the Colonials to a game-high 30 points and seven rebounds. Lampman cooled off from three but still shot 6-of-12 (50%) for 18 points. The Golden Grizzles totaled 45.1% from the field and 8-of-20 (40%) from three.
Spear and Cheeks carried the Colonials, scoring 41 of the team’s 65 points. Spear registered a double-double – scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds- to once again guide the RMU attack. 20 points and seven rebounds finished off Cheeks’ line including four threes.
RMU finished shooting 39.7% and 9-of-31 (29%) from distance. Josh Corbin struggled mightily, shooting 1-of-8 behind the arc, while Jackson Last totaled a 1-of-7 clip. Corbin, Last, and TJ Wainwright (off the bench) combined for seven points on 2-of-19 shooting.
Robert Morris continues its four-game road trip in Detroit Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Detroit Mercy.