Dunn, Robert Morris sink Red Flash in Loretto

Rasheem+Dunn+yells+after+a+basket+at+Saint+Francis.+Photo+credit%3A+Nathan+Breisinger

Rasheem Dunn yells after a basket at Saint Francis. Photo credit: Nathan Breisinger

By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

LORETTO, Pa.– Robert Morris (2-9, 0-2 Horizon) was in search of their second win of the year and first against a Division I opponent. They did just that, defeating Saint Francis (4-7) by a final score of 75-67.

RMU head coach Andy Toole spoke on the team’s performance after the game.

“It was a great effort by our guys,” Toole said. “Our guys were incredibly happy to come out with the victory. I thought they played well for a majority of the game, especially on the defensive side of the floor, which is something we have been harping on and talking about. They put the effort in tonight and they seemed to be everywhere they needed to be and dug out tough rebounds and made a lot of the plays that we needed to make to win games.”

Rebounding continued to be an issue early on in the game for the Colonials as the Red Flash grabbed two offensive rebounds on the glass and another rebound off of a free throw.

“They got some quick buckets on the offensive side off of offensive rebounds to start the game,” Toole said. “I thought that we were able to clean up the rebounding portion of our defense because we were making them miss… they were just getting the rebounds.”

Shooting problems also plagued Robert Morris early on as they made just two of their first eight shots on the night. Saint Francis took a six-point lead into the under-16 media timeout.

Brandon Stone checked in for the first time in over three weeks after dealing with an injury that sidelined him for a majority of the month. He made his presence felt when he came in as he grabbed a board on the defensive side picked up a steal and laid one in to end a long scoring drought for the Colonials.

“I hope he can continue to grow,” Toole said. “He has to get back in shape, but he’s got to stay with it and continue to work. He has been trying to do all the stuff that he needs to do.”

Both teams really couldn’t get much done in terms of scoring as Robert Morris continued to try to trim down a small margin midway through the first half. By the under-12 media timeout, Robert Morris still trailed by six points.

RMU continued to claw their way back to even with SFU as they cut the lead to four by the under eight media timeout thanks to some solid drives from the hoop by Justin Winston and Rasheem Dunn.

After missing their first five shots from beyond the arc, Kam Farris nailed a triple that put Robert Morris up by two and gave them the lead for the first time of the night.

Enoch Cheeks followed up with one of his own after a Matt Mayers block which forced Saint Francis head coach Rob Krimmel to burn his first timeout of the game.

Toole talked about how the team turned things around early on in the game and what was said during the media timeouts.

“It was a lot of them, it was those guys talking and continuing to work and finding good shots. I don’t think that we had good pace on the offensive side of the ball and we kind of moved the ball a bit better,” he said. “We started to create some advantages and started to attack the basket and that allowed us to work our way on the offensive side.”

Robert Morris controlled the tempo the rest of the half and led at the break by five. That was the Colonials’ first lead at the half since Mount Saint Mary’s on November 19.

RMU came out of the gates firing, hitting two shots from the field and not allowing any margin for error on the defensive side of the floor. They extended their lead to 11 in the opening minutes of the second.

The Colonials flourished early on in the second half hitting their shots left and right. Mayers was red hot from the floor and even stretched the floor and hit a three-point jumper.

Toole noted the game for Mayers, but also mentioned how he needs to continue his growth.

“He has to keep growing, Matt hasn’t played the game very long. This is his first experience in Division I. He has to keep growing and keep learning,” Toole said. “Matt has some stuff that you can’t teach like length, size and great touch. If he can keep learning to grow and getting some confidence and build on these efforts, I think he becomes a really good player if he continues to work.”

Mayers also talked about his game.

“We’ve been trying to work together and get a win tonight,” Mayers said postgame. “It’s been a struggle, I just keep picking up the pieces and seeing it in the gym and now, the results are here.”

Stone followed with one of his own and Rasheem Dunn finished with a one-handed flush off of a fast break.

The Colonials cooled off after Stone missed two three-point jumpers in a row but still held a 16 point lead with around 12 minutes left.

Robert Morris hit a little bit of a cold streak as after the under 12, the Colonials were 1-5 in their last five shots from the field. That allowed Saint Francis to make a dent into the RMU lead cutting it to just nine points.

Michael Green III hit a stepback jumper that gave the Colonials some more breathing room again. By the under-eight media timeout, RMU stretched its lead out to 13.

Saint Francis put on an impressive 13-2 run which cut the Colonial lead to five points with around four minutes to go in the game thanks to five points from Maxwell Land.

SFU continued to chip away and brought the lead to within four with less than two minutes in the game.

Rasheem Dunn iced the game going 4-4 from the charity stripe to make the lead insurmountable.

Rasheem Dunn led the way in scoring for Robert Morris putting up 21 points. Mayers also had a solid game posting a double-double with 16 points and 11 reounds.

The win was crucial for the Colonials as they head into conference play next Thursday.

They take on Oakland on the road in Rochester on December 30, at 7:00 p.m.