The No. 2 seeded Colonials battled the No. 7 seeded Central Connecticut State Blue Devils in the quarterfinals of the NEC Tournament Wednesday afternoon at the North Athletic Complex.
Here is a breakdown of how the Colonials punched their way to the semifinals tomorrow evening at the North Athletic Complex with a 60-54 victory.
First Quarter Separation: The Colonials have seen scoring struggles this season but after giving up the games first three points, RMU went on an 11-0 run, eventually taking a double-digit lead. Senior Jocelynne Jones and freshman Megan Callahan led the surge with four and five points respectively for the Colonials.
CCSU Turnovers: The Colonials also took advantage of seven CCSU turnovers in which they turned into 14 of their 20 points scored in the opening quarter of play. The Colonials lockdown defense and pressure led to poor passing and miscues by the Blue Devils on offense, holding them to limited offense, especially in the first quarter. CCSU had another six turnovers in the second quarter, committing a total of 13 in the first half. Turnovers would continue to pile up for CCSU as they finished the game with 22. This stat is important to mention because the Colonials were able to turn those 22 turnovers into 30 points.
Second Quarter Breakdown: After leading by double-digits after the first ten minutes of play, RMU came out of the gates in the second quarter flat. The Colonials were held scoreless for the first half of the second frame and were held to only 5 points in the quarter. Robert Morris couldn’t find the hoop and allowed CCSU to make their way back in the scoring column as the Blue devils cut RMU’s lead to 25-18 before halftime.
Third Quarter Rebound: After being held to 5 second-quarter points, The Colonials were able to get their grip back on the game and return to their first quarter dominance they displayed early on. RMU was able to find the hoop unlike in the second frame scoring 22 points. Senior Megan Smith was also able to find a groove shooting as she hit a big three-point shot before a media timeout with 4:26 to play in the quarter, giving RMU momentum going into the stoppage of play. At the end of the quarter, a huge three-pointer by freshman Nina Augustin allowed RMU to take a 13-point lead, erupting North Athletic Complex crowd.
Ezeigbo Off the Bench: Sophomore and recently named NEC Second Team member Nneka Ezeigbo was a force to be reckoned with off the bench for Robert Morris. Nneka led the Colonials in first-half points. She also gave the Colonials their first points of the second quarter halfway through the quarter after re-entering the game off the bench. Ezeigbo finished the first half with 8 points and 3 rebounds, leading the Colonials in both categories in the first half. Ezeigbo’s 10 total points were hard fought and came at crucial times throughout the game.
Hardwood Robbery: Another statistical category that goes along with the Colonials forcing turnovers all game long was their 12 forced steals. This helped RMU execute turnovers which turned into quality points for the Colonials. This was also an evident example of the Colonials lock-down defense that was seen throughout the regular season.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: There wasn’t a single Colonial that sparkled in the stat line. It was a team effort all around for RMU. The Colonials dished the ball around, only taking shots they felt comfortable making. RMU didn’t force anything and took what CCSU gave them offensively. Three Colonials finished in double-digit figures scoring, Ikematsu and Smith with 11 and Ezeigbo with 10. However, 7 of 9 players that saw the court for RMU found the basket and scored.
There were ups and downs in the game but RMU didn’t stop fighting throughout the game.
“We were able to come away with the victory even if it wasn’t pretty at times, just kept grinding and kept staying after it so on to the next round,” head coach Charlie Buscaglia said.
Robert Morris punched their ticket to the NEC Tournament semifinals with their win over CCSU and now turn their focus to the semifinals. RMU will take on the winner of Saint Francis Brooklyn and LIU Brooklyn.