MOON TOWNSHIP– It is important to make the most out of your home games, and the Robert Morris women’s basketball team (11-6, 6-0 NEC) did just that on Monday. Backed by 24 points, a season-high, from Nneka Ezeigbo, the Colonials emphatically closed out their four-game homestand with a 73-43 win against Sacred Heart (6-11, 3-3 NEC).
Robert Morris didn’t wait long to dictate the pace of the game, as Nneka Ezeigbo and Honoka Ikematsu combined for 11 points to put RMU in front 11-2 by the time the first media timeout came around.
The big opening frame continued thanks to big shots from downtown courtesy of Natalie Villaflor and Esther Castedo.
As the shots for RMU kept dropping, Sacred Heart struggled to keep possession, turning the ball over eight times in the opening quarter. Robert Morris capitalized by scoring 12 out of their 19 points during the frame off of turnovers.
Sacred Heart was still in striking distance as the second quarter began. Down 19-7, the Pioneers were one run away from making it a game. Isabella Posset was quick to keep the momentum in RMU’s favor, however, burying a three-ball early in the frame.
Following a few empty possessions, Esther Castedo hit another big three for the Colonials to extend their lead to 17. Robert Morris then continued to play at an upbeat tempo by tormenting the Pioneers on defense yet again.
Sacred Heart shot just 2-13 in the second quarter and turned the ball over another eight times. On the other end, Robert Morris shot 7-15 with just one turnover. This contributed to the Colonials’ 38-17 lead at the half.
As the second half began, Robert Morris continued their defensive pressure, forcing a turnover on Sacred Heart’s opening possession. Although RMU couldn’t capitalize on this turnover, it was clear RMU wasn’t content with their lead.
Coach Buscaglia commented on his team’s determination to keep pushing by stating, “Well we’re very focused on, you know, the different culture of the game. When a team has a lead and how you can be complacent.”
While RMU continued pushing, Sacred Heart began to make a little run of their own, outscoring the Colonials by five in the third quarter. Although Sacred Heart still struggled to keep control of the ball, Robert Morris matched the Pioneers with seven turnovers. Despite the hiccups, RMU remained in front 53-37 at the quarter’s end.
Coach B commented on the run Sacred Heart made to end the quarter, stating, “Sacred Heart was working harder than us while that run went on, so I give them a lot of credit.” Buscaglia continued, “They really challenged us for that run, it wasn’t just us getting lazy.”
With RMU in front but losing a little steam, they needed a big jolt to shut the door on a potential Sacred Heart comeback. That jolt came thanks to a familiar face, Nneka Ezeigbo.
Ezeigbo dominated Sacred Heart as the final quarter began, converting on two and-one chances en route to scoring the Colonials’ first eight points of the half. This put RMU in front, 61-37.
Posset also made the most of an and-one to really pad the Robert Morris lead. Add this to the fact that the Pioneers didn’t score until the 4:18 mark of the quarter, and Robert Morris coasted to a 73-43 win.
A total of 12 Colonials played in the game, but no matter what combination of players were on the court, Robert Morris didn’t miss a beat.
Coach B emphasized the importance of the chemistry between his team, stating, “We are always working hard to create great chemistry through hard-working culture. Chemistry works really well when you are putting others in front of yourself.”
Nneka Ezeigbo also emphasized her team’s chemistry, “I feel like we’re all very close so we have that connection where we can tell each other what we need to hear.”
Speaking of Ezeigbo, she tallied eight rebounds and two blocks in addition to her 24 points.
In addition to her great play on the stat sheet, Coach Buscaglia emphasized her importance to her teammates by stating that “The consistent effort and work ethic to inspire her teammates, that’s what she has learned over her four years here.”
Following a perfect homestand, the Colonials have a few days off before a two-game road trip that features games against Long Island (3-14, 2-4 NEC) and St. Francis Brooklyn (5-11, 1-4 NEC).
About his team’s success early on in NEC play, Coach B stated, “We’re very humble, no matter if we are winning or we are losing, that humility needs to stay balanced and steady.”