College Basketball

Robert Morris WBB Defeats LIU Brooklyn 55-44; Battle St. Francis Terriers Monday Night

Brooklyn, New York – With their first Northeast Conference loss last week to Saint Francis University in the rearview mirror, the Robert Morris Women’s Basketball team mounted an 18-5 surge in the fourth quarter Saturday to defeat LIU Brooklyn 55-44 at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

LIU came out from halftime down 25-17 to the Colonials (17-5, 10- NEC) when the Blackbirds (9-14, 5-7 NEC) offense asserted itself 16-9 in the third quarter. RMU was behind 39-37 with 7:58 left in the fourth when head coach Charlie Buscaglia’s crew put together a 15-0 run and kept their hosts without a point over the next 7:19.

Freshman starting guard Honoka Ikematsu got the comeback on track as she connected on a jumper in the paint at 7:37. Nneka Ezeigbo, a sophomore center, split a pair of free throws to put Robert Morris back in charge of the scoreboard 40-39. Ikematsu then added a three-pointer from the corner on a pass from senior forward Jocelynne Jones. Jones came through with another assist by hitting Ezeigbo with a pass for a layup.

Next, Jones delivered a layup in the paint on her own with contact from LIU senior forward DeAngelique Waithe and converted the free throw to make it 48-39 in favor of the Colonials. Megan Smith, a starting senior forward, sank two foul shots to give Robert Morris a double-digit lead. After grabbing a steal at 1:54, Ezeigbo put up another basket in the paint at 1:44.

Ezeigbo wrapped up the afternoon with her eighth double-double of the 2017-2018 campaign, leading RMU with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Smith was joined by senior center Mikalah Mulrain as they each contributed nine points to the scoresheet. Jones tallied four assists as did freshman guard Megan Callahan. Ikematsu (3), Jones (4), and Ezeigbo (2) combined for nine of the Colonials’ 10 steals.

Buscaglia commented to Ethan Woy on the team’s website about the matchup, “Nothing came easy today. We had some moments where we fought hard, and some moments where we lost our pace. I give a lot of credit to LIU Brooklyn for playing extremely hard for 40 minutes. Our defense got better as the game went on, and that was a big reason why after missing a lot of shots around the rim, we propelled ourselves to a win.”

RMU Stat Line Of The Game: Robert Morris collected 13 points off turnovers to LIU’s three. Six came in the fourth quarter.

Colonials Musket Shots: RMU’s bench claimed a 21-15 edge over the Blackbirds’ reserves.

BOX SCORE

For the Blackbirds, Waithe recorded her ninth double-double this season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Jeyda Johnson provided 12 points, and led her squad with three assists. A pair of guards, Denisha Petty-Evans and Tia Montagne, had two steals apiece. Head coach Stephanie Del Preore’s team owned a 72.2 percentage advantage at the free throw line to RMU’s 63.6.

Next Up: Robert Morris stays on the road for a Monday, Feb. 12 meeting with the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers (9-14, 5-7 NEC). The contest gets underway at 7:00 p.m. at the Pope Physical Education Center.

The Terriers lost their Saturday afternoon matinee at home 94-71 to the Red Flash of Saint Francis University. When they met RMU at the North Athletic Complex on Monday, Jan. 8, the Colonials won 59-36.

Head coach John Thurston’s troops drained 40 percent or more from three in 12 games this season. The Blue and Red have two of the NEC’s top three-point shooters in Jade Johnson and Alex Delaney.

St. Francis – Brooklyn came in sixth in this year’s Preseason NEC Coaches Poll. Last season, the Blue and Red finished in eighth place and reached the NEC Quarterfinals in the conference tournament.

Projected Starters:

Robert Morris:  G – 13 – Megan Callahan (5-8 / Fresh); G – 20 – Honoka Ikematsu (5-6 / Fresh): F – 1 – Jocelynne Jones (6-0 / SR); F – 22 – Megan Smith (6-1 / SR); C  – 21 – Mikalah Mulrain (6-3 / SR)

St. Francis – Brooklyn: G – 23 – Johnson, Jade (5-9 / Soph); G – 1 – O’Neill, Amy (5-6 / JR); G – 12 – Palarino, Maria (5-10 / JR); F – 14 – Delaney, Alex (6-0 / SR); F – 34 – Hickman, Lorraine (6-0 / JR)

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