The Robert Morris Colonials mid-season struggles continued Saturday afternoon as the team dropped the finale of their four-game homestand 73-67 to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights.
The Knights (8-15, 5-7) rode into PPG Paints Arena and rode out able to return the favor of a home loss the Colonials (13-12, 7-5) handed them in mid-January.
Robert Morris allowed their opponents to jump out to another fast start. The Knights were up 16-10 at the second media timeout. After the 12 minute mark, the first half turn into an entertaining, back and forth affair.
Led by Dachon Burke, who had eight points at the break, the Colonials went on a 7-0 run to retake a one-point first-half lead. However, that would be the final time Robert Morris gained the upper hand in the contest.
Jahlil Jenkins answered for the road team, scoring five unanswered points for the Knights to go in front 21-17 with 13 minutes to go in the half. Fairleigh Dickinson counterpunched effectively all afternoon. Carried by their own 7-0 run, the Knights led at halftime 37-26.
For a third straight game, a lackluster performance in one half doomed the Colonials chances of mounting a comeback, as Head Coach Andy Toole lamented this fact post game.
“We didn’t come out with good urgency offensively in the first half, and that really hurt us,” said Toole. “The inability to rebound the ball was really key. There were a number of balls we didn’t give the right effort on or had in our hands and lost. They scored on almost all of those possessions.”
If someone listens to Coach Toole talk over the last several games, urgency and effort could be pinpointed as a root cause for the team’s sudden change in fortune.
Robert Morris was unable to gain a foothold in the second stanza. Despite Dachon Burke returning to his usual scoring ways, compiling 19 points and eight rebounds to lead the Colonials.
Joined by Koby Thomas and Charles Bain in double figures. Scoring 18 and 15 points respectively.
It’s clear however Coach Toole’s anguish is on the defensive side of the court.
Preaching fundamentals like “don’t turn the ball over or “follow your slides.”
The Knights led by four players in double figures outrebounded and outscored the Colonials in the paint.
Robert Morris finishes the current homestand at 1-3 prompting Coach Toole to plead for “self-evaluation” after the game. It was a rough stay at home, that saw the Colonials tumble from first place at the start to a tie for third in conference play at the end.
Robert Morris will look to stop the skid on the road Thursday at Saint Francis of Brooklyn. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.