Moon Township, Pa. – Serving as the hosts for the Northeast Conference women’s basketball tournament quarterfinals, Robert Morris (24-6, 17-2 NEC) found their mettle tested Wednesday by Central Connecticut State University (7-23, 7-11 NEC) before turning the Blue Devils challenge away 60-54.
RMU’s offense found its rhythm quickly as they assembled a 13-0 run in the first quarter and came out of the opening frame with 20-8 advantage. Leading the surge for the Colonials was sophomore center Nneka Ezeigbo with six points followed by Megan Callahan, a freshman guard, contributing five, and senior forward Jocelynne Jones adding four points.
Central Connecticut relied on their defense in the second quarter as the Blue and White limited Robert Morris to just five points while putting up 10 of their own on the score sheet. Starting freshman center Ashley Berube tallied five of the 10 for CCSU. The Blue Devils led in rebounds 20-13 in the first half. However, the scoreboard favored the Colonials 25-18.
Fans of the Blue, White, and Red saw head coach Charlie Buscaglia’s crew take the ball inside as they held off CCSU 22-16 in the third frame and owned a 47-34 lead to start the final quarter. Megan Smith, a senior forward, delivered seven points, while freshman guard Honoka Ikematsu registered six in the third.
The Blue Devils pushed back with a 20-13 performance in the fourth including a 12-0 run to close the gap to 58-54. The junior guard duo of Kiana Patterson and Sydney Hines had 11 and six points respectively over the last 10 minutes.
With just 36 seconds left, the Colonials’ Smith missed a three-point shot but maintained possession when freshman guard Nina Augustin knocked the ball back onto the court as it headed out of bounds. Ikematsu collected the ball back for RMU, which after a time-out, led to Central Connecticut fouling to try to stay in the game. Smith supplied a pair of free throws at the 17-second mark to complete the 60-54 victory.
Smith and Ikematsu recorded 11 points each for RMU. Ezeigbo totaled 10 points, two steals, and one blocked shot coming off the bench. Jones provided seven rebounds, two steals, and six points. Callahan wrapped up the contest with nine points and three steals while senior center Mikalah Mulrain had eight points.
Ezeigbo commented to Omari Sankofa II of the Post-Gazette about the meeting, “I think it’s really good that we have that type of balance where we can score in the paint and be able to shoot outside. We just have connections and we try to play free all the time. If somebody’s open we try to hit them as much as we can and just focus on what we need to work on, fundamentals and just keep playing free.”
Buscaglia told Ethan Woy about the matchup on the team’s website, “It was a hard fought game and I give a lot of credit to Central Connecticut. They played very hard and never quit. I told (head coach Beryl Piper) after the game how that was a great fight and great battle. Even though it wasn’t pretty at times, we just kept grinding, and are moving onto the next round.”
From RMU Athletics On YouTube.com – Post Game – Megan Smith, Nneka Ezeigbo, and Head Coach Charlie Buscaglia…
RMU Stat Line Of The Game: Robert Morris grabbed 30 points off turnovers to CCSU’s nine.
RMU Musket Shots Of The Contest: The Colonials had a 30-14 edge in points in the paint and 7-2 lead in fast break points.
Junior forward Andi Lydon and Patterson were at the top of the box score for the Blue Devils with 16 points apiece. Lydon posted 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the 2017-2018 campaign. Berube contributed three blocked shots and eight rebound to go with her seven points.
Head coach, Beryl Piper’s squad, achieved 69.2 percentage at the free throw line to 52.9 percent for Robert Morris.
From RMU Athletics On YouTube.com – Post Game – CCSU Head Coach Beryl Piper and Andi Lydon…
Next Up: After claiming their 20th postseason win at home and the sixth straight, the Colonials tip off Thursday against the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (13-17, 8-10 NEC). The semifinal game gets underway at 7:00 p.m. at RMU.
From The Clipboard: The NEC disclosed Wednesday Buscaglia was the Brenda Reilly NEC Coach of the Year for the second straight season…Smith made the All-NEC First Team, and Ezeigbo obtained Second Team honors…Ikematsu is a member of the All-NEC Rookie Team.
Top Video From RMU Athletics On YouTube.com – 3/7/2018 RMU vs CCSU – Women’s Basketball Highlights…