Robert Morris upset by IUPUI, hand Jaguars first conference win


Michael Green III runs down a layup against IUPUI. Photo Credit: Justin Newton

Kevin Plowcha

MOON TOWNSHIP– The Robert Morris Colonials (7-20, 5-13 Horizon) took on the IUPUI Jaguars (3-22, 1-13) in a Horizon League conference matchup Thursday night.

RMU was looking to build off of their victory over Youngstown State on Sunday.

IUPUI came out of the gates hungry for their first conference win of the season, as they took an early five-point lead. Back-to-back buckets from Enoch Cheeks cut RMU’s deficit to one, 6-5, where it stood at the first media timeout.

RMU struggled early on to find the bottom of the net. Starting 0/5 from three-point range didn’t help matters.

On the other end, the Jaguars were finding success inside, as B.J. Maxwell and Chuks Isitua got easy buckets during the next stretch.

IUPUI stretched their lead back to five at the second media timeout of the night. The Jaguars may have been shorthanded, as they only suited up six players, but they played hard.

The Colonials started to find their footing, as a 7-0 run by RMU, capped off by a Kam Farris three-pointer, gave the Colonials their first lead of the night.

IUPUI stopped the run with a jumper by Boston Stanton III, which knotted the game at 14 after 12 minutes of play.

RMU was not doing themselves any favors, as they kept turning the ball over and looked sluggish for most of the half.

An and-one from Brandon Stone got some energy back into the arena, but the Colonials still trailed with four minutes remaining in the 1st half.

RMU finished the half with 10 turnovers while shooting just 33 percent from the floor.

Despite IUPUI shooting a much better 44 percent from the floor in the 1st half, the Jaguars scored just 24 points.

At the half, both teams were knotted at 24.

The start of the second half remained an evenly matched affair with both teams trading buckets back and forth. IUPUI led by two at the first media timeout of the second half.

Both teams had their fair share of foul issues. Three of the six IUPUI players had three fouls early in the second half, while Kahliel Spear got a technical foul, giving him three fouls and forcing him to take a seat on the bench.

It took Spear a while to get going, and head coach Andy Toole spoke about Spear’s struggles.

“I thought we got him the ball in the right place,” Toole said. “[IUPUI] doubled him a couple times, but there were some other times where he initiated contact but didn’t get the call. I think that kinda distracted him a little bit from continuing to play the right way.”

A three-pointer by Enoch Cheeks gave RMU a slim one-point lead with just under twelve minutes remaining in the game. Cheeks finished with seven points.

RMU took a two-point lead with 11:26 left, but IUPUI just wouldn’t go away. The Jaguars took a one-point lead with 8:54 left and sustained it until the under-8 minute media timeout.

A big reason that the Jaguars were able to stick around was Bakari Lastrap, who finished with 18 points for IUPUI.

The Jaguars extended their lead to as much as four points with just over five minutes left, but a three-pointer from Michael Green III was just what RMU needed, cutting the deficit to one with five minutes left.

After that three by Michael Green, things started to look bleak for RMU. An 8-0 run from IUPUI gave the Jaguars a nine-point lead, their largest of the night, with 2:37 left.

An and-one by Kahliel Spear cut the deficit to six, but a three-pointer by B.J. Maxwell proved to be the dagger, extending IUPUI’s lead back to nine. Maxwell also finished with 18 for the Jaguars.

Despite RMU’s best efforts late, they would fall short, losing 66-56, dropping to 7-20 overall, while giving IUPUI just their third win of the season and their first win in Horizon League conference play and Division 1.

Andy Toole praised the effort of the Jaguars in his postgame press conference.

“I thought they played incredibly well,” Toole said. “They’ve been fixed with such tough circumstances throughout the entire year, and they’ve never stopped playing or trying to execute.”

Matt Mayers led RMU’s scoring with 12 points, followed closely by Kahliel Spear who finished with 11.

The Colonials will look to rebound from this defeat on Saturday night when they take on the UIC Flames at the UPMC Events Center.