RMU narrowly finishes 17-point comeback, falling 72-66 to Mercer in Savannah, Georgia

Some teams live and die on three-point ball. On Friday, the RMU’s offense choked on it.

Robert Morris kicked off the Hostilo Hoops Community Classic on Friday night in Savannah, Georgia. The Colonials started the three-game tournament against the Mercer Bears in the first-ever matchup between the two schools.

Mercer opened the scoring for the Colonials in the last minute – RMU trailed by three – but it wasn’t enough for a 72-66 loss. RMU (2-3) missed all but one of the three attempts to finish 1-for-17 (5.9%). Andy Toole’s team remains winless outside of the UPMC Events Center.

Neither team played particularly well in the first half. Mercer (3-3) jumped out to a 29-14 lead before RMU ended the half with a 13-0 run. The Bears led 29-27 and shot significantly better than RMU. Mercer made 12 of 27 (44.4%) field goals and attempted only five triples, of which he netted three.

Both teams did not attend to the basketball to their liking. Mercer turned it over nine times and committed 11 fouls. RMU wasn’t much better at handling the ball, turning over the stone seven times. Michael Zanoni drove the squad forward, scoring nine and two threes in 3-for-8 shooting. Kamar Robertson added six points and four rebounds.

The Colonials relied on 10 points and five rebounds from graduate Kahliel Spear on 3-of-7 shooting in the first 20 minutes. Enoch Cheeks also contributed an early nine points as RMU shot 11-to-30 (36.7%) and failed to make a three-pointer, missing all 10 attempts from behind the arc. RMU fought back into the game at various points and didn’t let the Bears escape until the very end.

Kevin Martina started the game when Josh Corbin came off the bench. Martina only played four minutes, but Corbin continued his cold streak. Mercer didn’t score a field goal in the final 3:49 minutes of the game but ended the deal at the free-throw line.

Spear and Michael Green III stared toward the RMU when no one else’s light shone noticeably bright. He finished the night with team-bests in points (24), rebounds (9) and baskets (9-for-14).

Green battled the flu earlier in the year and put on his best offensive performance of the season. The sophomore Colonial Guard blew an impressive 9-for-11 from the field, totaling 19 points, two rebounds and three assists.

Corbin was the only Colonial to make a three-pointer, but missed another three attempts. Cheeks missed all six of his attempts but connected Spear with rebounds. The third grader scored in double digits with 11 points.

After no player was in doubles in the first half, four did to end the game for Mercer. Robertson led the roster with 27 points, Zanoni and Jalyn McCreary recorded 14, and Luis Hurtado Jr. was the last starter in pluses with 13 points.

The Bears were efficient compared to their opponents from Free, but not from Field Goals overall. Mercer shot 42.1% from the ground and made 5 of 10 (50%) three-pointers to sink the Colonials’ ship. The bears narrowly failed to cover the seven-point spread.

RMU finished the game with 16 turnovers, one fewer than Mercer, and are still trying to gain traction as a collective group to finish matchups. The Colonials play Evansville in game two of the classic at 5 p.m