Eight is enough was the message inside the Robert Morris Colonials locker room on Saturday. Robert Morris was again without four players due to suspension: freshman forward Jeremiah Worthem, freshman guard Britton Lee, and sophomore walk-ons Evan Grey and Shaire Tolson-Ford.
Without those players, particularly Worthem, RMU played with a sense of urgency in their 74-70 victory over the Wagner Seahawks. Senior point guard Anthony Myers-Pate said after the game, "The urgency went up, now that we're down guys."
Wagner came into the game taking 48% of their shots at the rim, and they didn't deviate from that against the Colonials 2-3 zone. They worked the high post, which forced the defense to collapse, while they snuck senior center Naofall Folahan or senior forward Orlando Parker behind the defense on the baseline in an attempt to get easy layups.
However, the Seahawks were unable to take advantage of those opportunities; Folahan and Parker started the game a combined 1-4 from the floor as Robert Morris went into the first media timeout leading 8-4.
Junior forward Mario Moody took advantage of the two early fouls on sophomore forward Stephan Hawkins, and his back-to-back baskets gave Wagner their first lead at the 13:46 mark.
Over the next five minutes the lead changed five times. A three-pointer by junior guard/forward Lucky Jones gave RMU a 22-19 advantage at the 8:52 mark, and they maintained the lead for the rest of the quarter. As the buzzer sounded for the half, the Colonials led 33-31.
Folahan finished the half with six points and nine rebounds; he also blocked two shots. Robert Morris saw every player except junior guard David Appolon score in the first half. Senior guard Karvel Anderson paced the team with eight points, and Jones added seven.
The Seahawks started the second half on a 16-7 run that gave them their largest lead of the night at seven points a little less than six minutes into the half. However, a three-point play by Hawkins, followed by a steal by freshman point guard Kavon Stewart, led to an Anderson triple that brought RMU within one point of Wagner just 37 seconds later.
Back-to-back triples by sophomore guard Charles Oliver and Myers-Pate helped the Colonials regain the lead. They were the first two baskets of a 13-5 run that ended at the 7:36 mark with them leading 61-55.
Moody helped get his team within striking distance, but took and missed every shot attempt and free throw for the Seahawks over the next two minutes.
A triple by junior guard Marcus Burton brought Wagner within one, down 70-71 with 15 seconds left. Stewart hit a pair of free throws, and a three-point miss by senior point guard Kenneth Ortiz sealed the Seahawks' fate. Tate grabbed the rebound and was fouled with just five seconds left in the game. He missed the first, but made the second after it nearly bounced up and hit the shot clock. That gave Robert Morris a four-point lead again, and shut the door on the late push by Wagner.
The Seahawks were led by senior guard Latif Rivers who finished with a team-high 19 points on 7-15 shooting, including four triples. Folahan had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds; he also blocked four shots and altered several more.
RMU was led by a game-high 21 points by Anderson, who was 4-8 from beyond the arc. Jones missed out on his third straight double-double; he had ten points and eight rebounds. Tate led the team in rebounds with nine.
When asked after the game what was going through his mind as he stepped to the charity stripe, Tate responded, "I ain't going to lie, I was nervous."
Head coach Andy Toole chuckled, "After the first one, I didn't know what the second one would look like."
When asked about the significance of the game, Anderson said, "It's a good statement for us."
The Colonials are now 6-0 in NEC play for the first time in school history. They have five days off before a big game at home against the Bryant Bulldogs (13-8, 5-1) next Thursday on ESPNU. Wagner will try to regroup against the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (7-12, 2-4) next Thursday.