RECAP: Colonials sweep two-game series at home vs. Wright State

Nina+Augustin+guards+Destyne+Jackson+of+Wright+State+on+Saturday+afternoon.+Augustin+dropped+12+points+in+the+victory.+Photo+Credit%3A+Nick+Hedderick

Nina Augustin guards Destyne Jackson of Wright State on Saturday afternoon. Augustin dropped 12 points in the victory. Photo Credit: Nick Hedderick

By Austin Bechtold, Assistant Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa.– After being swept on the road last week at the hands of Wright State, Robert Morris women’s basketball (2-8, 2-8 Horizon) returned the favor with a 68-65 sweep-clinching victory of their own Saturday afternoon over the Raiders (9-5, 9-3).

Robert Morris was led once again by freshman standout Sol Castro who recorded a team-high 20 points and also contributed five rebounds.

Head coach Charlie Buscaglia spoke highly of Castro and her efforts in the victory.

“She’s really taken well to the lessons we’ve learned early on,” Buscaglia said. “She’s learned a lot through the adversity that we’ve faced early in the season with what we’ve gone through with the quarantines, the lack of practices; we’ve missed so much time with her as a freshman. She’s learning a lot because of being behind [in previous games] and she’s handling it well, and when you’re a freshman you have to be able to really stay in the moment and bounce back because now teams are going to come after you like Wright State did today.”

The Colonials started the matchup with a lead after 10 minutes of play, taking a 20-18 lead into the second quarter.

Dahomée Forgues contributed two of RMU’s four early threes, helping to set the tone for the program’s most productive offensive output of the season.

The second quarter was another back-and-forth affair with both teams hitting shots despite strong defense on each end. Robert Morris took a 28-26 lead in the first media time out of the quarter thanks to back-to-back threes from Sydney Palermo off the bench.

Coach B called his first timeout of the afternoon with the Colonials clinging to a 32-31 lead with 2:05 left in the first half. The Raiders never let up on the Colonials’ defensive pressure and still found ways to put the ball in the basket.

After 20 minutes of play, Robert Morris and Wright State were all knotted up at 35 apiece as the Raiders’ Channing Chappell led all scorers with 12 points, all coming from beyond the arc.

Castro led all RMU scorers with 11 points.

Buscaglia said that Castro is starting to work her way through struggles she may encounter during the game.

“She’s learning now how to handle that and how to be at a good pace, keep her head up when she makes a mistake on both ends of the floor, and she’s got that heart and attitude to listen and to take the lessons well whether it’s success or failure,” Buscaglia said. “She’s talented, no question, but she really wants to learn and be better.”

RMU shot 43.8% from the field in the first half, including 7-14 from downtown. Despite being outrebounded 19-12, the Colonials took care of the ball, only turning it over three times.

Wright State jumped out to an early second-half lead, stretching it to 43-41 at the first media timeout of the third quarter at the 4:30 mark. The Raiders were shooting an impressive 51.6% from the floor and started to dictate the pace of the game.

Heading into the final 10 minutes of regulation Wright State held a 51-45 lead on the Colonials. At one point in the game, RMU faced an 11 point deficit to the Raiders but never let up. Robert Morris battled back to make it a three-point game with 3:52 left, trailing 58-55.

The score was tied at 62 after a timeout was taken with only 42.9 seconds left in regulation and the Colonials receiving the ball off the inbound.

Nina Augustin followed with a clutch floater in the lane to put the Colonials up two, and they never relinquished the lead back.

Augustin added two more free throws after Esther Castedo drew an offensive foul to get the ball back in her team’s hands.

The Raiders fought till the end, hitting a late three to cut the lead to three, but RMU held on to capture their second-ever Horizon League victory and first-ever series sweep.

“We needed to be strong, we needed to make plays down the stretch, and we did,” Buscaglia said. “We needed to make some stops as they were running their offense with a really fast pace, and they ran their stuff well today. To battle back to the position we were in, executing down the stretch and making plays is so important on both ends of the court, and we did that, and that why we ultimately were able to win.”

Castro finished with 20 points and five rebounds while Nina Augustin and Megan Callahan recorded 12 and 10, respectively. Augustin played especially well late in the game to clinch the victory.

Buscaglia credited the efforts of his coaching staff and the constant energy from the bench in the team’s second win.

“You’ve just got to keep fighting,” Buscaglia said. “It’s easy to say, but your actions on the court are going to speak so much louder than the words, and when we got down like that it was going to be the actions of how we handled the moment.”

The program has been focused on what Buscaglia calls the “relentless pursuit” to get stops, push the ball down the court, and match up with their opponent.

“We came back pretty quickly when we caught that momentum and captured that culture,” Buscaglia said. “When we got down the stretch we had to grind, and just be tough and physical and that’s ultimately why we were able to come back and overcome the adversity of being down 11 late in the game.”

Robert Morris will return to the court next Friday night, January 29, at the UPMC Events Center against the Youngstown State Penguins (4-3) for two-game series against their neighboring state rivals. Tip-off for Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. with Saturday’s contest starting at 5 p.m.