Robert Morris Basketball
Michael Green III Sinks Game-Winning Three as No. 6 RMU Survives to Defeat No. 11 IUPUI 67-64
The Robert Morris Colonials had a chance to clinch a first-round bye on Thursday while facing IUPUI on the road. Not only did RMU lose out on one of the top 5 seeds due to an Oakland win, but the team fell completely flat against the conference’s bottom dweller.
RMU’s 81-75 loss in Indianapolis snapped a four-game winning streak that included blowout wins against two of the conference’s top three teams. Andy Toole and the Colonials would not let history repeat itself.
No. 6 Robert Morris controlled the tempo from the early going but struggled late. The Colonials held on 67-64 to defeat No. 11 IUPUI on a game-winning three by Michael Green III to move on to the Horizon League Quarterfinals against Cleveland State.
MICHAEL GREEN III FOR THE WIN. No. 6 RMU survives a late push from No. 11 IUPUI to win the game 67-64 on MG3’s triple in the final seconds. The Colonials move on to the Horizon League Quarterfinals against Cleveland State. @michaelgreenlll pic.twitter.com/sUlCR9SO4W
— Austin Bechtold (@AustinRBechtold) March 1, 2023
Despite a lack of high-profile offensive possessions early on, the action heated up following the first 10 minutes.
Stephaun Walker scored the first six points of the game before the Jaguars responded with five of their own to take a 6-5 score into the first media timeout. Offense remained minimal through the next break in action as RMU led 11-7 with under 12 to go in the first.
The Colonials broke the first half open after IUPUI cut the deficit to 14-11 entering seven minutes left. RMU embarked on a 7-0 run to spark the crowd and go up 21-11.
Jackson Last was fouled from behind the arc at the 5:17 mark of the first half and but only converted on one of three free throws, making the RMU lead 22-14.
RMU stayed ahead 24-18 at the under-four media timeout but ramped up the offense heading into the locker room. Enoch Cheeks hit a triple and a floater to speed up his offensive production and Michael Green III also sunk a three to help draw the advantage back to double figures.
IUPUI responded on a few occasions, but could not find a consistent rhythm to score in bunches. Cheeks dealt with foul trouble throughout the half and picked up his third with 4.7 seconds remaining. The Colonials led 34-20 at halftime despite shooting 36% from the floor and 2-of-11 from behind the three-point arc.
Walker outputted another solid performance in the paint, scoring 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting and grabbing six rebounds in 14 minutes. Spear tied Walker for the team-high in points (10), and totaled two three-point plays, while Cheeks added five in 17 minutes.
IUPUI shot 41%, 2-of-6 from deep, and missed all four free throws it attempted in the first half of play. Jlynn Counter and Vincent Brady III tied for a team-best eight points. IUPUI committed 10 turnovers compared to RMU’s three, out-rebounded 22-17, and outscored 20-10 in the paint.
After RMU began the first half on a 6-0 run, IUPUI did the same to begin the resumption of play. Walker picked up his third foul at the 16:49 mark of the second half but remained in the game as RMU’s lead shrunk. The Jaguars’ run improved to 10-3 and the 14-point deficit cut in half at the next media break.
RMU still led 42-35 with 11:49 to go during a stoppage of play, only taking five field goals. Kahliel Spear and company fought back to regain control. Spear converted on a one-handed put-back dunk from the left side of the rim to power RMU’s lead back over 10. The Jaguars cut it to seven (52-45) at the under-eight media timeout and 6:25 remaining in the game.
The Colonials held a 59-48 advantage with 3:32 left as IUPUI called timeout and RMU in position to close out the game. The Jaguars threatened late and reached within five, 60-55, before RMU called timeout with a minute left. Counter scored following a turnover by Jackson Last to tie the game at 64 before Green III hit the dagger three. RMU closed the door and secured a second-consecutive year winning a conference tournament game and first-ever Horizon League tourney victory at home.
Spear totaled a double-double with a team-high 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting and 11 rebounds plus four blocks and three steals. Green III totaled 16 points and Walker added 12 points and six rebounds. Cheeks fouled out in the final minutes with nine points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Four players scored in double digits for IUPUI, paced by 25 from Counter and 13 from DJ Jackson and Chris Osten as the team shot 45% overall.
The Colonials advance to play Cleveland State Thursday night on the road in the quarterfinals.