Colonials claim NEC title


Photo credit: Morgan Torchia

Samuel Anthony and Samuel Anthony

The Robert Morris University Colonials secured their first conference championship since the 2013-14 season in their 62-48 victory of the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights on Monday night.

Robert Morris started this game off in a way which has become a trend this season, fast and high scoring as the Colonials quickly moved into a 9-0 lead to start the game.

The scoring came from all over the floor with a total of 19 points coming from seven different players.

At the end of the first ten minutes, the Colonials went into the break with a 19-8 lead over FDU. RMU was looking to continue to push the pace in the second quarter as the Colonials know far too well what happens when they get comfortable with a lead.

Meanwhile, in Loretto, PA, the Saint Francis Red Flash held on to a 20-16 lead over first-place Sacred Heart, a loss by the Pioneers and a win by the Colonials would clinch a Robert Morris conference title.

Charlie Buscaglia looks to claim an NEC title in his first season as head coach of RMU Basketball

So far, everything was going as planned.

“When we come out and get the tone set early usually we play pretty accountable.” said head coach Charlie Buscaglia

The Knights started to turn up the heat in the second quarter.

The appeared to find some rhythm on the offensive end, stymieing the typically stout RMU defense to trim the lead down to seven.

But two statement three’s from Rebecca Navarro briefly ended the thought of any sort of FDU comeback as Robert Morris returned their lead to 13 points.

“We had some moments there in the second quarter that we deviated from the gameplan which was really holding them to tougher shots. They got better looks, they shot at a high percentage so I wasn’t real happy with the way we executed the gameplan in the second quarter.” said coach Buscaglia

A scary moment near the end of the second when senior guard Janee Brown went down hard to the floor. She was helped off the court by the training staff as they continued to examine her ankle. She would go into the locker room on crutches, she would not return to the game.

Robert Morris headed into the locker room with the 36-26 lead over Fairleigh Dickinson. Saint Francis continued to grow their lead over Sacred Heart, with a 39-32 lead at the half.

If both these leads remain unchanged, the Robert Morris Colonials will be NEC champions.

But the second half is where the Colonials have struggled this season. It was where their winning streak ended and if RMU was unable to maintain their double-digit lead, it would also end their bid at a conference championship.

RMU would try and control the pace in the second half, and while their scoring was limited, it was making it extremely difficult for the Knights to cut into the lead.

Through the first half of the third quarter, each team only managed to put up four points each with the score sitting at 40-30.

The team is ecstatic upon hearing the news from the PA announcer that the Robert Morris Colonials are Northeast Conference Champions

Robert Morris would find themselves in foul trouble for most of the third quarter, with Nneka Ezeigbo and Megan Smith picking up their fourth and third fouls respectively, resulting in them having to sit out the remainder of the quarter. Coach Buscaglia was going to have to go deep into his bench to maintain the lead.

Shakema Dashiell stepped up with a momentum building three-pointer followed by a layup from freshman forward Nadege Pluviose. Scoring was coming from everywhere and the Colonials managed to build their lead up to 15 with the score 47-32.

The Colonials through three were able to take advantage of the very one-dimensional FDU offense, which with eight minutes left in the game had still not hit a single three-point shot. The Knights would finish the night 1-for-13 from three point range.

“Defense is our backbone” said Senior Point Guard Anna-Niki Stamolamprou

“We tried to set the tone from the defense…so we had something to build on”

Meanwhile on the other end, the RMU offense was hitting from all over the floor, including an astonishing 60% from long range.

The fourth quarter would run down with the Colonials in full control.  With a final score of 62-48 and a Sacred Heart defeat at the hands of the Saint Francis Red Flash, the Robert Morris University Colonials would be crowned Northeast Conference regular season champions.


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