Career night from Tavian Dunn-Martin drives Florida Gulf Coast over RMU

Enoch+Cheeks+drives+to+the+hoop+in+Robert+Morris+85-74+loss+to+Flordia+Gulf+Coast.+Photo+credit%3A+Ethan+Morrison

Enoch Cheeks drives to the hoop in Robert Morris’ 85-74 loss to Flordia Gulf Coast. Photo credit: Ethan Morrison

By Tyler Gallo, Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP– If Robert Morris knew how tough guarding Tavian Dunn-Martin was going to be during today’s game, they probably would have wanted a do-over.

The former Duquesne Duke dropped a career-high 31 points and 12 assists as Florida Gulf Coast (9-3) overturned Robert Morris (1-8, 0-2 Horizon) 85-74 on Saturday night.

Head coach Andy Toole expressed frustration over the looks the team was giving him.

“It’s a tribute to the game he played, and he played at an extremely high level,” Toole said. “The one three he hit was almost from half-court, and that’s where it gets to be super frustrating because most people aren’t making those shots.”

The Colonials staked themselves to a 12-8 lead early thanks to a pair of threes from Enoch Cheeks. In addition to that, they were riding the energy of a packed Colonial Crazies student section.

TCU transfer Kevin Samuel was referred to by Andy Toole as a ‘monster of a human being’ on Wednesday and he made his presence felt early. The 6’11”, 255-pound center for FGCU had six points and seven rebounds less than ten minutes into the game.

FGCU took advantage of a few shots that went rim and out for RMU, going on a 14-0 run following that 12-8 lead. Caleb Catto picked up 11 points, including three shots from deep.

Rasheem Dunn and company took a page out of the Eagles’ book, responding with an 11-4 run to draw within two and using the fast break to get them back in it.

Dunn-Martin, who came in averaging 18.3 points, notched 16 and dished 7 assists in the first half as the Eagles headed to the locker room up 44-35. Dunn led RMU scorers with 12.

The second stanza started the same way as Dunn-Martin missed a few shots, but still found the net once to put the Eagles up 51-41.

While Kahliel Spear did his best to curb the onslaught from Dunn-Martin, the Eagles started to push away, heading up 59-45 at the first media timeout highlighted by a Dunn-Martin 33-footer.

Robert Morris scratched it as close as 13 in the ensuing minutes with Dunn-Martin off the floor, but could not get any closer as Samuel added a few buckets.

The Eagles led 70-55 by the next media timeout with Dunn-Martin and Samuel still leading the way in points.

Dunn-Martin surpassed 30 points and set a new career-high of 31 on a three-pointer. His previous career-high of 30 came at Duquesne in 2018-19.

A late 10-2 run by the Colonials strengthened by two three-pointers from Michael Green III did help get the Colonials closer to tying the game, but time was winding down for that to happen.

Florida Gulf Coast hit all their free throws late and dribbled the time off the clock with the final score standing at 85-74.

Dunn-Martin’s 31 were the game-high for either side, while Kahliel Spear also picked up a double-double for RMU, going for 20 and 11 in the loss.

Toole was not happy with the defensive effort in the game, even with his recent switch to zone, the team still allowed more than 80 points.

“We need somebody to come back and help us protect the rim at some point,” Toole said. “Obviously they made a number of threes, but they also got layups too… We need some guys that can do it on the defensive side because right now, it’s not happening.”

Dunn-Martin’s misses gave FGCU more chances on the offensive side with six of his missed threes leading to offensive rebounds. Toole noted that this often takes the wind out of a team’s sails.

“It kills you. He’s getting clean looks, he’s getting multiple looks, it’s deflating to your team,” he said. “You are working hard and then you’re having to guard for long stretches. There was a possession at the start of the second half where it felt like we were on defense for three-and-a-half minutes.”

RMU wraps up its brief homestand and heads into the final portion of its non-conference schedule.

They will take on Bowling Green and former conference rival Saint Francis in the next leg of their schedule with the Bowling Green game coming next Sunday.