PREVIEW: Women’s basketball faces Wright State at home after dropping two in Dayton

Women%27s+basketball+faces+off+against+Wright+State+for+the+second+straight+weekend.+Photo+Credit%3A+Thomas+Ognibene

Women’s basketball faces off against Wright State for the second straight weekend. Photo Credit: Thomas Ognibene

By Austin Bechtold, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP– After losing two close games to one of the conference’s top teams, women’s basketball (0-8, 0-8 Horizon) will once again take the court against Wright State (9-3, 9-1), this time in the comfort of their own home at the UPMC Events Center. This is the second time the two teams will square off this season, with the Raiders sweeping the Colonials 58-48 and 58-51 in games one and two of last week’s series in Dayton, Ohio. Friday’s action will tip-off at 1 p.m. followed by Saturday’s contest at noon.

Recapping Robert Morris:

The Colonials have had a tough ride transitioning into the Horizon League this season, entering this weekend’s action still looking for the program’s first-ever conference victory. RMU has been plagued by troubles with COVID-19 this season as well, with a January 8-9 series against Northern Kentucky (4-5, 2-1) being postponed.

Before the cancellation, the Colonials were scheduled to host the Norse in only their second weekend series of the season to date. After 20 days away from their home floor, Robert Morris will look to bounce back against Wright State after two hard-fought contests at the Nutter Center.

After having trouble off the opening tip against prior opponents, RMU only trailed by a combined three points at halftime of both games. The roles reversed in the second half with the Colonials failing to finish off the job in the final minutes of regulation, losing by greater margins at the end of the game than they were at the half.

Esther Castedo led the charge for Robert Morris each game with team-highs in points for both games, recording eight and 10 points, respectively. The Raiders did their best to limit the impact of freshman Sol Castro, one of the Colonials’ most consistent and impactful contributors this season.

RMU will need a stronger showing from their depth off the bench to be able to propel into the win column. One key way to do this will be improving shot selections and creating a higher field goal percentage as a result of it, a critical downfall in dropping close contests.

Scouting Wright State:

The Raiders travel to Moon Township with a 3-1 all-time record against the Colonials thanks in part to sweeping last week’s two-game series. Wright State has also dealt with scheduling issues and postponements due to the pandemic, having their season opener delayed from Nov. 25 to Dec. 2 to tip-off the 2020-21 campaign.

The team currently sits in fourth place in the Horizon standings, looking up at Milwaukee (13-1, 10-0), IUPUI (8-1, 6-0), and Northern Kentucky (4-5, 4-0), all undefeated in conference play. Despite this, the Raiders could easily move to second or even first place, with only four and six games under their belts against conference opponents for the Norse and Jaguars, respectively as well.

Unlike teams prior, Wright State struggled to put away the Colonials on their home floor. One reason for this is the Raiders’ poor execution from the free-throw line all weekend long. The team shot 44.4 percent (8-18) from the charity stripe in game one, only gradually improving to 50 percent (13-26) in the second matchup. Wright State won the rebounding battle in both games and by dominating fashion in game two, providing a key component and competitive advantage over Robert Morris that head coach Katrina Merriweather hopes continues into the rematch.

Players to Watch:

Esther Castedo (RMU) – Castedo, the team’s leading scorer, is currently averaging 7.1 points per game. She needs to continue playing well for Robert Morris to find their first win of the season. The junior guard needs to play a major role in helping to guide the program into this new era of Colonial basketball. An uptick in points and assists to lead the offense would go a long way for a positive ending and getting in the win column.

Laura Carrasco (RMU) – The senior guard has seen an increased role this year compared to years past. Carrasco will need to show why she is deserving of more minutes offensively, taking advantage of open opportunities and knocking down a couple of shots. Look for her to be a factor in the Colonials recording potentially their first victory of the season.

Jada Roberson (WSU) – Roberson has been a consistent threat for the Raiders offensively. The junior is averaging 8.9 points-per-game and has fastly improved from her first season in the program. She recorded 24 total points in both games against RMU and will be another threat for Wright State this weekend.

Tyler Frierson (WSU) – It’s hard not to notice Frierson’s 6’4’’ frame as a senior leader on the court for Wright State, but her play truly does the talking. She has been a force defensively, blocking 13 total shots and leading the team with 103 total rebounds, with an eye-popping razor-thin margin between offensive and defensive boards, pulling down an impressive 52 offensive rebounds. Frierson will once again be a major threat to the Colonials’ chances at a victory.

Prediction:

After two close contests on the road in Dayton, The Colonials and Raiders will once again do battle in two back-and-forth affairs. Robert Morris played Wright State better than any other opponent almost halfway through the season and will continue this upward trajectory this weekend.

RMU will drop game one 60-55 before rallying back to a 64-58 hard-fought and well-earned victory in game two Saturday afternoon.