Colonials look for first win at Wright State

Natalie+Villaflor+and+the+Colonials+will+try+to+knock+off+the+Raiders+on+the+road+this+weekend.+Photo+Credit%3A+Thomas+Ognibene

Natalie Villaflor and the Colonials will try to knock off the Raiders on the road this weekend. Photo Credit: Thomas Ognibene

By Austin Bechtold, Assistant Sports Editor

DAYTON, OHIO- Robert Morris women’s basketball (0-6, 0-6) has struggled to find its footing in the program’s first season in the Horizon League but will look to turn things around this weekend against Wright State (7-3, 7-1) on Friday and Saturday in their first games in 13 days. Both games, January 15-16, are scheduled to tip-off at 2 p.m. The Colonials were originally voted to finish fifth in the conference while the Raiders were played third in the preseason poll as the schedule rolls on.

Recapping Robert Morris

It has not been a fairly warm welcome for RMU after departing the NEC for the Horizon League, and after numerous disappointing weekend series, the road does not get any easier for the Colonials. It also hurts to lose Isabella Posset from the starting lineup and her presence on both ends of the court, along with her strong three-point shooting, as she transferred to Saint Francis Brooklyn in December.

Robert Morris will travel to Dayton after last week’s series against Northern Kentucky (4-5, 4-0) was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test, quarantining, and contract tracing within the Norse program.

The last time the Colonials took the court was against IUPUI to ring in the New Year on January 1-2. RMU was swept in at the UPMC Events Center, falling 71-49 on New Years Day and 53-74 the following afternoon. The Jaguars offense took control early on in both games, scoring 27 and 24 points in the first quarter to take 10 point leads into the 2nd quarter in both contests.

Robert Morris has struggled to put together a complete game both offensively and defensively in 2020-21, a key attribute to the program’s success in the NEC. The Colonials have had problems off the opening tip and seem to get more comfortable as the action moves on, graned with the score mostly out of hand.

The team is scoring only 45.7 points per game while allowing an average of 64.7 for an eye-opening 19-point margin. The Colonials are also being outrebounded by more than 15 boards per game.

Coach Charlie Buscaglia has done the job making adjustments to the team in the past and needs to bring his group together to earn a few scrappy wins in the next month to help get the program back on track.

Scouting Wright State

Wright State has been playing solid basketball throughout the early portion of 2021, winning four road games in a row since we said goodbye to 2020. The Raiders are riding a five-game winning streak that started on December 20 at home against Oakland (4-7, 4-4). They defeated the Golden Grizzlies 74-49 before taking down Ohio rivals Youngstown State (1-3, 1-3) and Cleveland State (2-4, 2-4).

Last weekend’s series against the Vikings resulted in the Raiders needing exactly 64 points in each game to hold off Cleveland State and secure two more victories. Wright State is another team that tends to jump ahead to large first-quarter leads, which could be a sign of another slow start for the Colonials.

The Raiders were originally scheduled to host IUPUI before the series was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Players to Watch

Sol Castro (RMU) – Freshman forward Sol Castro has been a light in the darkness for Robert Morris early on this season. She is averaging 6.7 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game, and 1.2 steals per game for the Colonials in her first season. The Rio Colorado, Argentina native has been RMU’s best player on most nights and will need to continue her strong play to help propel the team to its first Horizon League win.

Natalie Villaflor (RMU) – Villaflor recorded seven points and two rebounds for the Colonials off the bench in RMU’s last game against IUPUI. The junior forward needs to step up her game and help guide the offense to a level it has not seen all season. Her defense must also help set the tone with energy and an added spark off the bench.

Angel Baker (Wright State) – Baker, a junior guard from Indianapolis, Indiana, is averaging a team-high 13.4 points per game and has been a consistent offensive threat for the Raiders in 2020-21. She s the team’s best player with the ball in her hands and makes the offense run smoothly through her leadership. Baker has committed a team-high 26 turnovers this season but she will be a big part of Wright State’s gameplan against Robert Morris.

Tyler Frierson (Wright State)- The senior center has started all 10 games for Wright State this season and stars on the defensive end of the court. She leads the team with 8.2 rebounds per game and also has a team-high 11 blocks. Frierson is part of the main reason why the Raiders have given up limited points this season and her presence in the paint is one key reason.

Prediction

Robert Morris needs to find a way to win a game to get on the board with their first-ever conference victory, but are running into a hot team in Wright State. I don’t think this road matchup is going to favor the Colonials and think their team needs to come together for a complete four quarters to get the job done.

Game one will be close, with the Raiders taking it 64-60 and taking game two by a wider margin of 68-59.