AUBURN HILLS — Last season, Ernie Zeigler called his team out for not being tough on Jan. 22 in Kalamazoo after a loss to Western Michigan.
This season, it came much earlier. The CMU men’s basketball coach said he will get back to instilling his tough philosophy within his team after a 73-60 loss to Robert Morris Saturday at the Palace.
“We are not where we need to be as a program in this process of building,” Zeigler said. “We have to go back and build toughness. We have to start putting guys on a daily basis through different things to build their toughness.”
CMU never led after losing its early 3-0 lead with less than two minutes into the game. RMU imposed its will, drawing foul after foul — 28 total — and shot 42 free throws. It took a 41-33 lead into halftime after shooting 72.2 percent.
Things didn’t get much better to start the second half. The Colonials opened up with a 7-0 run to take a 48-33 lead, and CMU would never get closer than 13 the rest of the way.
“We showed periods of trying to battle and show small snippets of toughness, but it was not enough to put ourselves in a position to be successful,” Zeigler said.
Senior forward Marcus Van, CMU’s lone threat in the post, scored 22 points to become the fifth CMU player to score 20-plus points this season.
But he got into foul trouble, sitting out the majority of the second half after scoring 12 first-half points.
“I tried to play the whole game without making dumb fouls, but sometimes it happens, you just have to keep your head up and continue to play,” he said.
Also in foul trouble throughout the game was sophomore guard Jeremy Allen, who scored just six points in only 20 minutes.
Allen fouled out with 7:16 remaining.
Junior guard Robbie Harman played a team-high 39 minutes and finished with 12 points.
“I think right now, with what we’ve got, we have to find within us when things get tough or aren’t going our way, we have to battle through,” Harman said. “And right now, we don’t have that.”
CMU shot just 39.7 percent, while RMU shot 60 percent. Zeigler said the only thing he could take away from the game is that the program is not doing well.
“When you have the opportunity to be in these types of venues in front of alumni and friends and family, you would hope that you would be inspired to come out with a better effort,” he said.