By Admir Durakovic and Justin Rimpi
The FDU men’s basketball team entered NEC play at Robert Morris Thursday night, falling 69–62, for their third loss in a row. The 5-8 Knights return to NEC play Jan. 5 at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pa.
The Knights were shorthanded as FDU junior forward Kaleb Bishop scored 10 points but left with an injury with 18:13 remaining in the second half. Sophomore guard Xzavier Malone-Key did not play, leaving the Knights without a crucial starter, averaging 13 ppg.
With just over two minutes left in the game at the North Athletic Complex, the Knights cut the Colonials’ lead to 62-60, but that was as close as it would get.
The Knights were careless with the basketball in the last minute when they found themselves chasing another game, the second game in a row in which they were trailing by 6 or less with a minute left. The team was throwing passes to no one and dribbling the ball off of their own feet.
Turnovers and missed shots cost the Knights down the stretch. The Knights finished with 22 turnovers, their most on the season.
The Knights dominated the points in the paint battle against the Colonials, 46-32. The shooting from the floor by Robert Morris (55.8 percent) made the difference in a close game.
Senior forward Mike Holloway was the leading scorer for the Knights, finishing with 18 points on 8-14 shooting from the field. The 6-9 forward from Pittsgrove, N.J., pulled down three rebounds as the Knights were outrebounded 27-24.
Sophomore guard Jahlil Jenkins, from Ranson W.V., got off to a hot start, going 4-6 from the field, scoring 10 points in the first half, and finishing with 17 points.
Charles Bain and Matty McConnell both scored 15 points to lead the Colonials. Colonials’ 6-8 junior forward from Menning, France Yannis Mendy was strong inside in the first half with 11 points on 5-7 shooting, finishing with 13 points.
The Colonials shot seven and 11 points better than the Knights from the field and from 3-point range, respectively.
Robert Morris went ahead 16-15 with 11:55 in the first half and led 33-31 at the break. The Knights recorded 8 steals and forced 14 turnovers from Robert Morris in the first half using man-to-man defense along with the occasional full-court press. FDU forced the Colonials to commit 24 turnovers.
Last season, the Knights were 1-1 against the Colonials. FDU won 73-67 at Robert Morris, and Robert Morris defeated the Knights 81-75 at the Rothman Center.
The North Athletic Complex, Robert Morris’ new student recreation center that opened September of 2017, and host all of the men’s basketball team’s home games this season. The complex was initially deemed too small to play host to such games, with a capacity of around 700. To fix that, Robert Morris added specially fitted bleachers to the gym, bringing the capacity up to 1,000, at a cost of $90,000, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Quotes from Fairleigh Dickinson University Athletics
“It was a difficult night for us on both ends of the floor and Robert Morris was just a little more solid team tonight for the entire 40 minutes,” said Greg Herenda after the loss. “Other than turning them over, we did not do a good job protecting our paint and ultimately that is what beat us. Conference road wins are very hard to come by and you cannot turn the ball over. We just never took care of it all night.”
“Now we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday night — and we will. Every night is going to be a dog fight and we will respond. This is conference play and no one is going to hand you anything.”