Colonials fall to Cardinals in NCAA tournament


Sophomore Guard Nina Augustin drives to the hoop in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Moon Township, PA March 22, 2019. (Samuel Anthony/RMU Sentry Media) Photo credit: Samuel Anthony

Luke Yost

LOUISVILLE — Asia Durr, a potential top five pick in the upcoming WNBA draft, and Louisville Cardinals (30-3, 14-2) left no doubt on the way to a dominating win over the Robert Morris University Colonials (20-10,16-2) by the score of 69-34.

“I think the arena saw how a team could continue to fight and continue to work hard, stay together, even when things get tough and continue to defend and just keep going to the next play, is what we’ve always been teaching,” said RMU head coach Charlie Buscaglia.

The Colonials kept pace with the high-powered Cardinal offense. After a Nneka Ezeigbo layup made the score, 5-4. Lead by Asia Durr, who finished with 10 points in the first quarter, the Cardinals score 16 straight points in the first quarter.

Samuel Anthony
Natalie Villaflor sends over the pass during her career day in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Louisville, KY March 22, 2019. (Samuel Anthony/RMU Sentry Media)

Robert Morris’s offense wasn’t able to keep pace. RMU shot 2-for-13 from the field, 0-for-3 from deep, in the first quarter.

Louisville’s defense was on full display in the quarter. The Cardinals forced five turnovers. The duo of Sam Fuehring and Bionca Dunham pulled down seven rebounds. As a team, RMU only pulled down seven rebounds.

At the end of the first quarter, the Cardinals were comfortably in the driver seat 21-4.

The Cardinals domination continued in the second quarter. When the media timeout rolled around at the 4:49 mark in the second quarter, RMU was in a 26-point deficit, 30-4.

Ire Ozzy-Momodu ended the Colonials scoring drought that lasted nearly 15 minutes. However, the lack of scoring wasn’t due to a lack of trying. RMU was just 5-for-24 in the first half.

“We didn’t get off to the best start when it came to finishing and knocking some shots down, you know, we make a lot of the time,” said Buscaglia. “I think the arena today saw how a team could continue to defend and just keep going to that next play.”

Natalie Villaflor came off the bence for Robert Morris and scored five points in the quarter. Ozzy-Momodu and Villaflor combined for all 11 of the Colonial points in the quarter.

Asia Durr wrapped up her first half with 15 points. Her teammate Sam Fuehring had 10 points.

Louisville was comfortably in the driver seat, 37-15 at the end of the first half.

“During halftime, Coach was telling us, like we need to stay on the path,” said Robert Morris’ Natalie Villaflor. “He’s always telling us there’s a light at the end of the path.”

The Colonials offense woke up during the halftime break. Robert Morris was able to trade buckets with Louisville for the first time all game.

Robert Morris was only allow to hold the pace for half of the third quarter. The Cardinals went on a 14-point run to end the third quarter. Sam Fuehring had five of the points. Fuehring went into the fourth quarter with 19 points and 11 rebounds. The senior forward was a perfect 9-for-9 from the floor.

Samuel Anthony
Ezeigbo goes up for a block against Louisville in first round of NCAA tournament. Louisville, KY March 22, 2019 (Samuel Anthony/RMU Sentry Media)

The late run propelled UL to a 60-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back triples from Natalie Villaflor was too little too late for the Colonials. Villaflor finished the night with 13 points and three rebounds. Her 13 points was both a career-high and a new RMU freshman record for scoring in the NCAA tournament. The previous record was set by Anna-Niki Stamolamprou.

“Doing whatever my team needed me to do, that was the focus,” said Villaflor when asked about her career day.

Reigning NEC Defensive Player of the Year, Nneka Ezeigbo finished with nine points and nine rebounds.

Sam Fuehring and Asia Durr both went for 19 points. Fuehring, coming off injury, was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field and tallied 11 rebounds. Durr added three rebounds to her stat line.

The Cardinals got ahead early and never looked back on the way to a, 69-34, win.

Coach Charlie Buscaglia is ready to use this experience in the future.

“We are a very routine driven, and we believe in what we believe in,” explained Buscaglia. “Just like this stage here, we didn’t change anything about our preparation, so going forward we’ll continue to build.”