Robert Morris blows 14-point second-half lead, falls to the Mount in OT

Despite+a+solid+night+from+Rasheem+Dunn%2C+the+Colonials+fell+to+Mount+St.+Marys.+Photo+credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

Despite a solid night from Rasheem Dunn, the Colonials fell to Mount St. Mary’s. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

By Michael Deemer, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP– After a rocky start for Robert Morris (0-4), they returned to the UPMC Events Center for the first time this year.

Despite a double-digit lead at the half, RMU fell to its old NEC foe Mount St. Mary’s (2-3) 74-70 in overtime.

Their return meant that fans are finally back and head coach Andy Toole was thrilled that the Colonial Crazies had a presence tonight.

“It was great to have [the fans] back. We’d love to have more of them but we need to earn it through our play,” he said. “I thought it was great to have them back. It was nice to have a buzz in the arena. It was nice to hear some cheers, some chants going. That’s awesome to hear.”

It started shaky for both teams in the first half especially for the Mountaineers who did not seem to get a shooting stroke in the early going. The Mountaineers sunk one bucket in their first 12 attempts.

The Colonials ran away with the game in the first half, closing it out with a three by Jaron Williams to put the Colonials up 13.

“I think we’re good when we’re not tired, and then we get tired were not good,” Toole said postgame. “When you come into the game, your fresh things are going well for you, balls are going into the basket, life’s good. Then, all of a sudden, adversity hits, and how do you respond when adversity hits? We didn’t respond very well when adversity hit.”

Toole also broke down the tale of two halves.

“We had good ball movement early in the game. I thought we were very active defensively, but when we started to get tired, we weren’t as active. We weren’t as good.”

It was an even second half with the Colonials still leading by double digits about halfway through, but a Josh Reaves three to cut the deficit to 12 was the birth of a 13-0 Mountaineer to take their first lead since beginning the game at 2-0.

As the Colonial shooting fell silent it was still a one-possession game throughout the last four minutes, which made this one an instant classic, but there was still work to be done to solidify the win, according to Toole.

“We took our foot off the pedal in the second half, unfortunately, and that’s what we need to get better at,” he said. “I have to figure out a way to get these guys to understand that every possession matters, for 40 minutes, every time you step on the floor. It’s frustrating for me, it frustrating for them and we have to figure out a way someway, somehow.

With seven seconds to go, Rasheem Dunn was at the free-throw line with a chance to essentially ice the game and make it a two-possession contest. He made the first to go up three but missed the second. The Mount raced up the floor as Mezie Offurum found a wide-open Deandre Thomas in the corner to tie the game with one second left.

With all that drama, there are still five more minutes to be played in overtime.

The momentum was all on Mount St. Mary’s side going into it and they delivered. The Mountaineers opened the extra period with a four-point advantage. A Michael Green three-pointer was too little too late as the Colonials fell to their former NEC rival 74-70.

“This is a very tough loss. I give credit to the Mount for having the ability to fight back. We’ve had great battles with them in the past. We know that they were never gonna quit,” Toole said. “We had some costly misses down the stretch, from the free-throw line and just weren’t able to capitalize on our opportunities. If we stepped up and did, then we could look at this game with a win and now we’re looking at this game through a different lens.”

Kahliel Spear had a double-double in the loss but it was his foul trouble that got in the way of getting more playing time, getting his fourth with seven minutes to go in regulation. Coach Toole noticed the significance of Spear’s presence on the floor.

“It’s huge. He’s one of the strongest, most aggressive interior players. I think a couple of fouls could have gone either way, but we got attacked too much. That’s what happened. We were put on our heels,” he said. “Usually when [you’re] the more aggressive team, and the team that is dictating the other team, you don’t get those fouls, but when you’re on your heels, you do.

Although a lot of experience is on this team, Coach Toole noticed that there is still work to be done in teaching the squad.

“At some point, we have to start to learn the lessons. They’ve been taught a lot of lessons in our first four [games] we don’t seem to be learning them. We’re trying to teach them every day in practice and we’re not doing a good enough job in that. We’ve got to figure out a new way to do that. We’re being taught that because we can’t pass the test.”

It’s a heartbreaking way to lose a game but there still is a long road ahead of Coach Toole and company.

The Colonials have another three-game road trip as they face Davidson on the 27th before playing two conference opponents in Green Bay on December 2 and Milwaukee on December 4, their first taste of phenom Patrick Baldwin Jr.