Turnovers and free throws plague Robert Morris in close loss to Oakland

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By Kevin Plowcha, Podcast GM

MOON TOWNSHIP — Robert Morris (4-12, 6-19) took on Oakland (17-8, 10-4) Friday night at the UPMC Events Center. The Colonials were looking to rebound from their loss on Wednesday night against Detroit Mercy.

The two teams traded buckets to start the game before Oakland would go on an 8-1 run, taking an early seven-point lead. Matt Mayers would make a bucket to cut the deficit, but at the first break, the Colonials trailed 10-5.

Coming into this game, Oakland’s Jamal Cain was averaging nineteen points. After eight minutes of play, he was well on his way to eclipsing that mark, as he already had 14 points.
Head coach Andy Toole spoke about the game plan coming into the game to try and stop Cain.
“Cain’s a hell of a player,” Toole said. “You gotta guard him. He’s one of the leading candidates to be the player of the year in the league, and we’re not guarding him.”

The Colonials would start to chip away at the deficit, though, as two Brandon Stone threes got the Colonials within four points, at the under 12 media timeout.

The next section was evenly matched, as the two teams continued to trade buckets, and the Colonials were able to cut the deficit to just two. Oakland still led by two, though, with 7:50 left in the first half.

RMU was able to take their first lead during the next sequence. With 6:58 left in the first half, a pair of free throws by Jaron Williams put the Colonials up by two.

After that, it remained a back-and-forth affair, with no team leading by more than two for the next four minutes.
With 2:33 left in the first half, Oakland held a slim lead, 34-33.

Oakland appeared to be pulling away, as a quick 5-0 run gave the Golden Grizzlies a 39-33 lead with just over a minute left in the half.
Two free throws from Enoch Cheeks cut the Oakland lead to four, 39-35, which is where it stood at the half.

A pair of free throws by Kahliel Spear kicked off the scoring in the 2nd half, but Oakland answered with a pair of thunderous dunks. The Golden Grizzlies extended their lead to as much as seven, but another basket by Kahliel Spear cut the deficit to five, with just under 16 minutes left in the game.

The next four minutes were all about Brandon Stone. He had five points in this stretch, including another three-pointer, and cut the deficit to as little as one before Oakland made a layup. Stone finished with seventeen points, tying his career-high.
With just under 12 minutes left, Oakland led by three.

Kam Farris went to the line for three free throws but was only able to make one. Free throw shooting was a struggle for the Colonials, as they went just 12/20 from the charity stripe.

Despite that, the Colonials were able to tie the game at 58 with 8:26 remaining before an Oakland layup gave them the lead right back.
With 7:24 left in the game, Oakland led by two.

Two more missed free throws and two turnovers headlined the next stretch for RMU, while Oakland was able to build their lead to six. Along with free throws, turnovers were also a big problem for RMU tonight.

The Colonials had 16 turnovers to Oakland’s five, and Oakland took full advantage, outscoring RMU in “points off turnovers” 22-4.

Andy Toole spoke about the turnovers and the big impact they had on a close game.
“When we put our keys on the board before the game, the number one thing is ‘value the basketball’,” Toole said. “It’s just killer. We made a couple of bad reads late in the game that I think really hurt our ability to tie or take the lead,” Toole said.

Matt Mayers answered with a dunk to cut RMU’s deficit to just four, 66-62, at the final media timeout of the game.

Neither team could close out the opponent, as both teams were held scoreless for a two-minute stretch. A dunk by Kahliel Spear cut the deficit to 67-64 with just under a minute left.

With precious time ticking away and the shot clock running out, a layup by Trey Townsend of Oakland gave them a five-point lead with just 22 seconds left.
Kam Farris made two free throws, but RMU wasn’t able to get the steal on the inbounds play.

Jalen Moore missed the front end of the 1-and-1 for Oakland, which meant RMU had the ball with one final chance to tie it up and send the game to overtime.
However, Oakland fouled immediately after the inbound, but Michael Green III made two free throws to make it a 69-68 game with 5.2 seconds left.

RMU fouled back after Oakland’s inbound, but Jamal Cain made both of his free throws to give Oakland a three-point lead again (71-68) with 4.5 seconds left.

The baseball pass from Brandon Stone was intercepted by Oakland, but Jalen Moore missed the front end of another 1-and-1, giving RMU one final chance. Kahliel Spear’s three-quarter court heave missed just to the right, and RMU falls in a heartbreaker, 71-68.

Andy Toole spoke about the effort and fight that RMU gave despite the tough loss.
“Those guys are giving everything they can give,” Toole said. “We just gotta be a little bit smarter in situations, but you can’t fault the effort or the mentality that the guys competed with tonight.”

The Colonials have another quick turnaround as they travel to Youngstown State for a Sunday matinee that starts at noon.