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Kahliel Spear attempts a floater against Northern Kentucky. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

For Kahliel Spear, it’s all in the family

Kahliel Spear saved one of his most dominant performances for RMU's first Horizon League win against Northern Kentucky, coming in front of his family.

January 16, 2022

Robert Morris earned its first Horizon League victory of the season against Northern Kentucky last night, and it was no surprise that forward Kahliel Spear was at the center of it all.

Spear, who has served as the vocal leader of the team this season and has been a bright spot in the team’s toughest moments, had his self-anointed best performance of the season on Saturday, and it came in front of his family.

“I was telling them I need to fly them out for every single game because I think that was the best game I have played in college,” Spear said. “This is the first time my sister has seen me play in college in-person because she plays at Wake Forest and our schedules conflict, but it was good to play in front of them and get a win.”

Coincidentally, Kahliel and his sister Jewel’s schedules did not conflict this weekend as her Demon Deacons are in Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers on Sunday, allowing for some nice family time at the UPMC Events Center tonight.

Jewel is also a leader of her team in her own right. Far and away pacing Wake Forest with her 19.6 points per game, Jewel Spear ranks 26th in the nation in points per game average.

Further amplifying his family’s basketball roots, Spear’s cousin, Nia Coffey, is a member of the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.

Perhaps that family connection at the game was what fueled his great performance. One in a long line of solid games for The Colony, Texas native, Spear picked up his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 21 points, grabbing a season-high 11 rebounds and dishing a season-high four assists.

Andy Toole was just as proud of his performance as his family was.

“Kahliel’s been a guy we’ve relied on. I thought he was ultra-efficient tonight with his shooting percentage,” Toole said. “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.”

Spear did a tremendous job of rendering Faulkner a non-factor, who was averaging 13.2 points coming in. Faulkner had an inefficient night, notching 4 points on 2-8 shooting.

Spear, who said it was his best college game, also takes pride in becoming the de facto vocal leader of the team.

“Being a senior, having four years of experience, and having younger guys who lean on me for advice, it’s important that I’m a vocal leader,” Spear said. “At times it can be hard if things don’t go our way, but it’s been something I’ve been trying to work on every day.”

Robert Morris, in large part because of Spear, notched its first Horizon League win of the season after a stretch of frustratingly close losses, all four by less than seven points.

The emotions of the night were running high, all coming to a boiling point when Spear received a pass inside from Michael Green III and posterized NKU’s Trey Robinson, staring him down and yelling in his face alongside Justin Winston.

Spear noted that he hadn’t seen the replay of the dunk at the time, but was feeling the emotions of the game at that moment.

“It 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.”

Spear had the chance to embrace his family after the emotional 74-64 victory.

While it is unlikely that Kahliel Spear’s family makes it out to every game, tonight was an incredible one to be in attendance for and a perfect storm of emotions for the forward.