Thomas, Colonials dunk on Blackbirds


MOON TOWNSHIP — Koby Thomas dunks against LIU Brooklyn on Febuary 21, 2019 (Mike Evans/RMU Sentry Media). This was the signature moment in the team’s win.

Samuel Anthony, Digital Content Manager

MOON TOWNSHIP — Koby Thomas, playing his first home game in front of the Colonials faithful in nearly three months, found himself alone on the breakaway. It was a moment that many at Robert Morris (14-14, 9-6 NEC) had waited all season to see. The human highlight reel throwing down one of his signature slam dunks. As he threw down the dunk, the crowd erupted, and a Colonial team that had sputtered after their 7-1 start to conference play, suddenly felt as though they were breathing new life. In a key 62-49 victory over the LIU Blackbirds (12-15, 6-9 NEC) Saturday night, the storyline of the game was Thomas himself.

Early in the game for the Colonials, scoring was hard to come by as RMU scored just seven points in the game’s first eight minutes, going 2-for-10 from the field which included an 0-for-3 mark from Josh Williams.

After Robert Morris had scored just five points during the first 4:25 of the game, RMU head coach Andy Toole made the decision to almost completely switch the lineup. McConnell was the only starter left after the switch.

But the switch proved just as ineffective for the Colonials, as they saw LIU Brooklyn march on to a 12-2 run to gain a 17-7 lead. Raquan Clark led the charge for the Blackbirds, as he scored seven of LIU’s first 17 points while shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from the field.

LIU Brooklyn’s defense took away the inside game from Robert Morris as the Colonials struggled to make anything happen from mid-range and three-point range.

Sayveon McEwen, tied with Dante Treacy as the shortest person on the RMU roster, made his way inside late in the first half, only to have the ball launched into the front row by Tyrn Flowers. Malik Petteway tried the same just moments later to find the ball taken away in mid-air by Flowers.

The RMU defense was keeping the score within single-digits, but the Colonials offense struggled to find consistency.

The one glimpse of hope from inside the paint came from the athletic Koby Thomas.

Koby Thomas, just his second game since missing the first 13 games of conference play, used his incredible athleticism to break into the paint. Thomas lost the ball mid-flight but regained his composure and the basketball for the basket-and-one.

A steal by McConnell saw another display of Thomas’ athleticism with the transition lay-in late in the first half as RMU tried to shift the momentum.

But still, the Colonials trailed 27-22 going into the locker room.

Robert Morris muddled their way to the locker room after going just 8-for-30 from the field. The Colonials also went just 3-for-8 from the free throw line.

A near-silent offense in the first half came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, in the first six minutes they went 7-for-11 and jolted ahead of the Blackbirds 39-33 and into their first lead since the score was 3-2 in the first half.

An LIU Brooklyn defense that completely shut down the paint suddenly appeared unable to stop the onslaught of the Robert Morris offense.

Malik Petteway, Cameron Wilbon and Yannis Mendy got to the rim at will. The depth of the Colonials were displayed as nine different players got themselves on the scoreboard during the game.

The Colonials were in total control. And the Blackbirds were totally helpless.

In the second half, Robert Morris outscored LIU Brooklyn 40-22, while the Blackbirds went 0-for-6 from the three-point line.

With RMU sitting in comfortable position, it was their human highlight reel in Koby Thomas, with the moment of the night, and perhaps a statement to all those who have doubted the Colonials in recent weeks.

Thomas, with the basketball a mile ahead of anyone else on the breakaway, appeared to soar nearly from the free-throw line in Michael Jordan-esque style. The two-handed slam sent the crowd into a frenzyn which includes RMU president Chris Howard, who jumped out of his seat after the emphatic dunk sealed the fate of LIU Brooklyn.

Robert Morris ran away with the rest of the game, as the final score came to 62-49. The Colonials remained tied for second place in the conference with Fairleigh Dickinson while a slew of NEC competitors fell behind the Colonials. It was a key victory late in the season as RMU stays in the hunt for the NEC regular season championship.

The men’s basketball team returns to action on Saturday, Febuary 23 at 5:00 p.m. when they host Saint Francis Brooklyn (16-12, 8-7 NEC).