Photo credit: Katey Ladika

Colonials soar over the Blackbirds en route to semifinal victory

March 8, 2018

During his press conference, the night before this game Coach Charlie Buscaglia and his Colonials had to “tighten the screws” for this game tonight. The Robert Morris Colonials look to move on to the NEC Championship game. Only one team stood in their way. The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds had the same aspirations. As the Colonials did the night before, they used their defense to spark the offense.

After two early layups from Megan Callahan and Jocelyn Jones, the Blackbirds answered with two made free throws from Denisha Petty-Evans. Then, the Colonials offense came to life. A 10-0 run gave RMU an early 10-2 lead. Nneka Ezeigbo continued her dominance from the night before. She scored 6 points while only playing five minutes of the first quarter. A late run helped LIU pull within 10 by the end of the quarter. At the end of one, the scoreboard read 19-9. “

The second quarter started slowly for both teams. Nadege Pluviose and a long-range jumper were the only points for the Colonials early on in the quarter. Then the defense again, for the Colonials, lead to a 9-0 run. Ezeigbo was displaying strong inside play for RMU. She had six more points in the paint. At the mid-way point of the second quarter, the score was 28-11. A 13-0 run propelled Robert Morris to a 40-20 lead heading into the break. This is only the second time all season that the Colonials put up a 40 spot before halftime. The one other occurrence turned out to be a 91-57 win over Sacred Heart. “It’s a team game,” said Coach Charlie Buscaglia. “Both sides of the ball were really clicking.”

Robert Morris camped out in the paint during the first half. RMU was able to keep an offensive rebound out of the talons of the Blackbirds in the first half. RMU also pounded the paint on offense, scoring 24 of their 40 first-half points in the paint.

The opening of the second half was plagued with fouls for the Colonials as they accrued three fouls in the opening three minutes. LIU Brooklyn’s Deangelique Waithe was on her way up to the basket when RMU’s Nina Augustin fouled her to the ground. Instantly the normally loud rec center gym, became extremely quiet. The play was stopped for a couple of moments. Waithe was helped off and taken back to the locker room for further evaluation. She did return to the game and battled on.

The Colonials offense didn’t skip a beat. The second half scoring was led by Ezeigbo and Honoka Ikematsu. Ezeigbo had 5 points in the quarter. A late 3-pointer gave Ikematsu 6 points for the quarter. RMU outscored LIU Brooklyn 24-11 in the third quarter. The score heading into the fourth quarter was 64-31.

Robert Morris was outscored by the Blackbirds 13-10 in the fourth quarter. It was way too little, way too late. The Colonials cruised to a 74-44 win. With tonight’s win, the team won their 25th game. That is a new program record for wins in a season. The win has given them a berth in the NEC championship game. This will be Robert Morris’ fifth straight title game appearance. The Colonials are looking for their third consecutive NEC championship. “I have memories of those past teams,” explained Buscaglia. “This year is about this team.”

They won this game on the backs of Nneka Ezeigbo, Megan Callahan, and Jocelynne Jones. Nneka Ezeigbo came in off the bench and produced an amazing stat line. Ezeigbo went for 21 points, on 9-10 shooting from the field, five rebounds and two steals. Megan Callahan scored 16 points. Jocelynne Jones had a wonderful defensive game. She had five steals, 4 points, four assists and four rebounds.

Robert Morris will take on the Saint Francis Red Flash Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Loretto Pa. in the NEC Championship Game

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