PREVIEW: Women’s basketball concludes regular-season schedule at winless Purdue Fort Wayne

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Women’s basketball heads to Purdue Fort Wayne this weekend for their final series of the year. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo

By Austin Bechtold, Contributor

FORT WAYNE, Ind.– Losers of three in a row and winless on the road, Robert Morris women’s basketball concludes their regular season schedule in Indiana to face Purdue Fort Wayne.

Things could be worse for the Colonials (3-11, 3-11 Horizon), as the Mastodons (0-20, 0-18) haven’t won a single game all year in what marks their first season as well in the Horizon League. The first-ever meeting between the two programs will tip-off Friday at 2 p.m. followed by the rematch at noon on Saturday to complete the team’s first Horizon League conference schedule since COVID-19 ended RMU’s NEC tournament run in 2020.

Recapping Robert Morris

Struggling to close out games on the road is an understatement for RMU this season. The program is 0-8 away from the UPMC Events Center with two more cracks at it before the conference tournament begins on Thursday, February 25.

Robert Morris was swept in Rochester, Michigan last weekend, February 5-6, against Oakland (11-10, 11-7) after losing their final home game to Youngstown State (8-6, 8-6) the Saturday prior. The Golden Grizzlies, currently fifth in the conference, relied heavily on junior Kahlaijah Dean’s game-high 25 points and nine rebounds. Nina Augustin led the Colonials with 13 points but RMU as a whole was outshot by an astounding 10 percent exactly, shooting 41.9 percent while the more efficient Golden Grizzlies posted a 51.9 point mark.

Game two resulted in a less than ideal rematch for RMU, as the Colonials dropped the more tightly contested second game 84-77 in the first-ever series between the two teams. Robert Morris stuck with Oakland in most statistical categories, taking the ball away at a more efficient rate with 15 steals and 19 forced turnovers. Sol Castro recorded 15 points but was not enough as Dean posted another 21 points, leading the team to the same field-goal percentage as the day before.

RMU’s defense is the key to the program’s success and has been for years while dominating the NEC. Forcing the Mastodons to shoot around 40-percent or less will be critical for this team to improve their confidence and stock heading into the conference tournament.

Scouting Purdue Fort Wayne

There is no kind way to describe the Mastodons’ first season in the Horizon League, as the team has lost every game but one by ten or more points. Purdue Fort Wayne is 0-18 in conference play, 0-11 on the road, and 0-9 inside the Gates Sports Center, losing 29 games in a row dating back to last season as a member of The Summit.

The team returns home after a 102-60 rout by YSU in game one and 68-52 on February 5-6, and 68-45 and 71-61 scores against Cleveland State (8-7, 7-7) the following week on February 12-13.

Friday will mark the Mastodons’ ‘Pink Out’ game to benefit the Vera Bradley Foundation in support of breast cancer awareness.

Players to Watch:

Sol Castro (RMU) – Since joining the Colonials for her freshman season, Castro has been RMU’s best offensive contributor despite only averaging 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds-per-game on the year. Her scoring ability has improved with more practice and game reps under her belt and will be interesting to see what she can do against a team struggling as mightily as Purdue-Fort Wayne.

Dahomée Forgues (RMU) – Forgues had a strong performance off the bench for Robert Morris posting 12 points and a team-high five assists. The sophomore guard needs to be RMU’s rock off the bench and solidify herself as the true first member off the sidelines to provide a spark and contribute. She has recorded 4.9 points-per-game in limited action this season.

Sierra Bell (PFW) – Bell has started 19 of all 20 games for Purdue Fort Wayne averaging a team-high 10.5 points-per-game for the lowly Mastodons. The 5-foot-7 redshirt-junior guard struggles from behind-the-arc and shoots only 32.5 percent from the field. She will need to be efficient and take smart shots if Purdue-Fort Wayne can find a way to win a game in their final two opportunities in 2020-21.

Aubrey Stupp (PFW) – A freshman guard from Farmersville, Ohio, Stupp has started to make an impact for the Mastodons. Only recording 4.2 points-per-game in 19 contests, 13 starts, Stupp has posted double-digit points in three of her last four games including a career-high 11 in both contests against YSU. She will be a key building block for Purdue Fort Wayne in the future and against Robert Morris as a starter.

Prediction

Robert Morris should have no problem containing the Mastodons’ ineffective offense, walking away with two wins to close out the 2020-21 Horizon League regular season. RMU will take down Purdue Fort Wayne 85-64 in their highest-scoring performance to date, and win narrowly 74-65 in the Mastodons’ second loss of fewer than 10 points.

The opening tip Friday afternoon is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. with the final game of the regular season at noon on Saturday.