Women’s basketball stays perfect in pink against Bryant

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Women’s basketball stays perfect in pink against Bryant

Photo credit: Samuel Anthony

Photo credit: Samuel Anthony

Photo credit: Samuel Anthony

Photo credit: Samuel Anthony

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MOON TOWNSHIP — The Robert Morris Colonials (13-8, 10-0 NEC) continued to stay perfect against the Bryant Bulldogs (6-15, 4-5 NEC). It was a historic night for Robert Morris as they became the first team in program history to start 10-0 in conference play as they won 59-56.

Robert Morris was unable to settle in early into this game. Bryant forced RMU to cough the ball up four times in the first five minutes of the game. The Bulldogs turned those turnovers into four points. Bryant’s Masey Zegarowski took advantage by when she knocked down a pair of momentum changing three-pointers that had the usually rukus North Athletic Complex silent.

The early offensive struggle forced Robert Morris coach Charlie Buscaglia to call a timeout. His team took advantage of the extended break though, as they came out and went on a seven to two points run. At the end of the first half, the Colonials held on by a slim 15-14 lead. Nia Adams led the Colonials with five points as the team also turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter.

“We just got to come out and be ready to play,” explained senior guard Nia Adams. “Be ready to set the tone offensively and defensively. We just got to play our basketball and we know how to do that. We had to get it together real quick.”

The Bulldogs turned the tables on Robert Morris in the second quarter as Bryant held the Colonials to just six points in the second. Robert Morris also turned the ball over five times in the quarter.

Over the past few games, the duo of Nneka Ezeigbo and Ire Ozzy-Momodu have been dominating in the post. The centers combined for just three points and two rebounds in the first half. The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Colonials 20-15 in the first half.

In the first half, Bryant shot four for six from behind the arch. Zegarowski made three of those baskets.

At the end of the first half the Bulldogs led 29-21. The duo of Zegarowski and Naomi Ashley combined for 15 points in the half.

The message at halftime was simple: get back to Colonial basketball.

“Just pick it up,” said Adams when explaining the halftime speech. “We know what we need to do. We were all capable of doing more than what we were doing out there.”

“We had to get in there and talk about what we were doing wrong,” detailed Robert Morris head coach Charlie Buscaglia. “Things that we were doing wrong fundamentally, things we weren’t defending really well. We were getting scored on a lot, but there was some mistakes that we had to tighten up. We had to tighten the screws defensively on some actions they were running. Be ready to come out and grind and play with a better pace on offensive.”

Out of the break, RMU forced Bryant to commit three turnovers. The defense turned into offense and the Colonials went on a 13-0 point swing to open up in the third quarter.

Bryant’s first points of the second half came from Katrina Palmer when she hit a shot from behind the arc with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter. Bryant would build off of that and take the lead on another Palmer triple.

The Bulldogs had the lead for all but the last five seconds. Nina Augustin controlled the ball at the top of the key and drove the lane. Her off balance dropped and gave the Colonials a 40-39 point lead. A late shot attempt by Masey Zegarowski was not in time, and RMU led 40-39 heading into the last frame.

Bryant had done a great job controlling the clock and using all of the shot clock. In the fourth quarter, Zegarowski and Palmer hit back-to-back triples with less than five seconds remaining on the shot clock.

The Bulldogs took the lead early in the fourth quarter. Robert Morris stayed within one point of the Bryant lead when an Isabella Posset steal resulted in an easy layup for the freshman. The Colonials took a 51-50 lead, but three straight free throws put Bryant back in the driver seat.

With 38 seconds in the game and down by a point, freshman Isabella Posset took charge and drove to the inside. She made the layup and the Colonials took the lead, 54-53. Nina Augustin, a sophomore, was fouled and she made both of her free throws. RMU was leading 56-53 before Posset added a free throw to the Colonial lead.

The Bryant Bulldogs did not go down easy. Another three-pointer by Kierra Patterson, her fourth of the night, made the score 57-56 in favor of the Colonials.

Freshman Natalie Villaflor, made two clutch free throws with two seconds on the clock. The Colonials held on at the end. The final score was 59-56 when the final buzzer sounded.

The last time these two teams squared off the game was close as well as Robert Morris won that game by the score of 60-57.

“Give credit to Bryant because they don’t quit,” said Nia Adams about these close games. “They don’t quit at all. It’s always a battle.”

“They play really hard,” commented Coach Buscaglia, “They are well coached. What else can you say, they grind. You don’t go into the game fearing anything. You don’t go in fearing a close game. You don’t want to be in those games. They are a very hard working team, and when you go out there against them, these are the kind of games they are always involved in. We just had to be ready to rise up at the end and finish the game.”

Nina Augustin led the Colonials with 12 points and three assists. Isabella Posset chipped in with nine points and three assists.

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