Robert Morris finally gets over the hump, captures first Horizon League win


Jaron Williams drives past Jake Evans of Northern Kentucky. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

Michael Deemer

MOON TOWNSHIP– Saturday night was the conclusion of the Robert Morris five-game homestand with Northern Kentucky coming to town.

After a frustrating stretch where they lost all four games by less than seven points, the Colonials (3-14, 1-7 Horizon) broke through, defeating Northern Kentucky (6-12, 4-5) 74-64.

“I’m happy how the team performed tonight,” head coach Andy Toole said after the game. “Finally getting over the hump… it’s never easy. We did a lot of good things, especially down the stretch. [We] came up with some big spots, big rebounds, scrapped up some hustle plays and it came up with some unselfish basketball.”

From the opening tip, the Colonials were rolling, making their presence felt on both sides of the floor.

They dominated the paint early, scoring all their first eight points in the paint, and ended up having 44 on the night. They forced the Norse to a dismal 1-7 start from the floor.

A 6-0 Colonial run bolstered the lead to their largest of the game, nine, taking a 17-8 advantage.

The Colonials drove to the paint for the majority of the half with 20 points in the paint and six second-chance points.

Coming back from the break, they started a little slow. Northern Kentucky opened the half on a 7-2 run, but the Colonials did not hold back. Midway through the half, the Colonials got a 9-4 run as the back and forth affair continue.

Coach Toole’s defense stepped up towards crunch time, not allowing a field goal for almost three minutes. During that NKU drought, Kahliel Spear electrified the crowd with a monster slam bringing the UPMC Events Center to their feet.

“[The dunk] was crazy. I was caught up in the moment. It felt good because it helped swing some momentum,” Spear said. “I’m always happy making plays for my team that lead to positive momentum moving forward to the end of the game.”

With about two minutes to go, Spear had two clutch blocks in consecutive defensive possessions eventually being enough to seal a 10-point win.

While it may be a frustrating season so far for the Colonials record-wise, Kahlil Spear mentioned that the locker room was ecstatic after the win.

Spear ended up pacing the Colonials with 21 points on the night, playing one of the best overall games of his collegiate career in front of his family. Toole spoke about Spear’s presence on the floor.

“Kahliel’s been a guy we’ve relied on. I thought he was ultra-efficient tonight with his shooting percentage,” Toole said. “I thought he also did a good job defensively. There was a portion of the game against [Trevon] Faulkner where I thought he did a strong job on him, guarding along the perimeter.”

RMU hits the road next week as they travel to Fort Wayne, Indiana to take on Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday at 7:00 p.m.