Colonials upset Youngstown State in first round of Horizon League Tournament


Michael Green III celebrates a basket against Youngstown State. Photo credit: Melanie Hulse

Ethan Morrison

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO– Robert Morris came into the first round of the Keeps Horizon League Tournament 7-23, but it was a new day for the Colonials as the calendar turned to March.

Robert Morris came out firing on all cylinders as they led by as much as 20 at one point in the second half. The Colonials punched their ticket to the Horizon League quarterfinals defeating the Penguins by a final score of 77-73.

Head coach Andy Toole reacted after the team’s first tournament win in program history.

“Obviously guys were very excited and this was probably the best performance over the course of 40 minutes all season,” he said. “They were really engaged in terms of the plan and execution on both sides of the floor and it showed. They did a good job in the first half building a lead and they stayed so engaged and were really efficient offensively and defensively to start the second half.”

Kahliel Spear kicked off the scoring for the Colonials in their first possession of the game, knocking down a three-pointer from the corner off the dribble.

However, Robert Morris got into foul trouble early on picking up four team fouls in the first four minutes of play. At the under 16 media, Robert morris held a slim three-point lead.

Fouls continued to be an issue as the under 12 media timeout hit as Robert Morris was holding YSU 40 percent from the field around midway through the first half. At the under 12 media timeout, Robert Morris still led by three points.

Youngstown State tied the game up for a brief moment but a putback from Matt Mayers gave Robert Morris a slim advantage once again.

Chase Cook put the Colonials back on top right out of the media timeout hitting a three-point shot.

Right out of the last media timeout of the first half, Michael Green went down the court on a fastbreak, got fouled and the shot fell. He converted the and-one to give the Colonials a six-point lead.

Green once again asserted his dominance, getting into the paint to hitting a floater to give RMU a 10-point advantage. That forced Youngstown State head coach Jared Calhoun to call his first timeout of the game.

Robert Morris took a nine-point lead into the locker room as Spear led the way with 12 points in the first half.

The Colonials started the second half as they did the first. After getting a stop on the defensive end, Jaron Williams hit a triple as time expired on the shot clock.

Robert Morris continued to control the pace early in the second half thanks to a Spear layup and another Williams layup to push the lead up to 16 points with 16:21 to go in the game.

Matt Mayers had the paint locked down in the second half, tallying two blocks in the first four minutes of action in the second half.

Mayers spoke on his valiant defensive game after the win.

“I was being coached really hard and I really had to step up to the plate because a lot of teams in this league test my defense,” Mayers said. “I just had to come out and prove a lot of people wrong.”

The Penguins deployed the press out of the under 16 media and it worked and seemed to get the Colonials all out of sorts getting into the offensive end.

Even though RMU was uncomfortable, they got the job done when they needed to as they took a 17 point lead into the under 12 media timeout.

YSU cut into the Colonials’ lead down to 14 thanks to a Dwayne Cohill three-pointer, but Cheeks answered on the other end with a vicious dunk.

After a couple of lay-ins from the Colonials, a breakdown on the defensive end of the floor allowed Matt Mayers to notch a two-handed flush, which forced the Penguins to call their second timeout of the half.

After the Robert Morris run the Penguins began to chip away at the lead thanks to a Chris Shelton three-pointer. That would cut the lead to 16 points.

Out of the media timeout, Robert Morris got four offensive rebounds, and finally, after long last, Brandon Stone layed it in.

YSU went on a run with less than two minutes left in the second half after Spear went one-for-two from the charity stripe. Michael Akuchie made a layup then Green coughed the ball up which allowed Cohill to hit a triple to cut the deficit to 10 points.

The Penguins continued to battle and cut the lead to six after Cohill converted an and-one opportunity.

The ‘Guins couldn’t finish the comeback effort as the Colonials scraped by.

Overall, the Colonials shot 53 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. Kahliel Spear led the way for the Colonials shooting seven for eight from the field and hit his lone three-point shot at the beginning of the game.

Robert Morris will travel to Cleveland State in the second round of the Horizon League Tournament.