RMU women’s basketball topped by Akron in home opener


Natalie Villaflor drives to the hoop against Akron. Photo credit: Ethan Morrison

Michael Deemer

MOON TOWNSHIP– After dropping their first game of the year to St. Bonaventure, the RMU women’s basketball team (0-1) looked to bounce back in their home opener against Akron.

It was the first time the Colonials played in front of a home crowd since March 9, 2020.

“It’s a blessing to be back and doing this again.” Coach Charlie Buscaglia said. “The journey of all the changes. We’re still experiencing some. It’s much more of a college feel, much more of an excitement. It’s something we’re blessed to have for them to have the support that they have. They’ve been craving it.”

The Colonials found their shooting stroke early in the contest with a quick 11-2 run to start the game. Sol Castro led the team with 7 points during the first media timeout. A last-second layup by Ashya Klopfenstein kept the Colonials up by a comfortable 8.

The Zips fought right back in the 2nd quarter with 2 three-pointers by Pittsburgh native Rachel Martindale and Kendall Miller to put the Zips with an even 25-25 tie.

Right before the half, two clutch threes by RMU’s Mackenzie Amalia and Simone Morris put the Colonials up 6 at the end of the frame.

A 9-3 Colonial run to start the second half gave the Colonials a 40-28 lead. Sol Castro was in foul trouble and got her third personal foul. After she was taken out, Akron flipped the script and went on a 15-0 run to take a 43-40 lead, the Zips’ first of the afternoon.

Coach Buscaglia mentioned that the team had to be better when Castro isn’t on the floor.

“We have to do a better job when she comes out of the game to be able to function well. We’ve worked on it in practice, but when the game is going on, we got to bring that work that we’ve done in practice onto the court after and respond.”

Castro led the team in plus-minus with a +12 mark.

“That’s big,” Buscaglia added. “It was by far the best number we had. So, when she’s off the court we didn’t function as well. You never know what can happen. Foul trouble, she needs a rest, anything. You gotta go out there and play quality basketball and run the offense well and take advantage of some other areas when she’s out. We have to respond better than that and we’ll work at it. We’re just gonna get back at and try and master what we do and not question it.”

The fourth quarter was the same story. Jordyn Dawson did it all for the Zips, outscoring the Colonials 11-8 in the 4th quarter and continued to dominate the Colonials in the paint.

“We’re a type of team that high and lows are just not a part of our culture. I thought we allowed ourselves to get low. We allowed ourselves to think things were gonna come quickly to us,” Buscaglia said. “They were gonna turn the ball over just because got up there once, put a little pressure on one pass, and just really took advantage of that. They beat us backdoor in some big spots. I thought we didn’t respond well to the backdoor. ”

Buscaglia continued on the team’s experience.

“That’s something in our culture we haven’t seen that much against us. We got a little complacent. Just gotta respond better, and be tougher. They make a couple of shots, go on a run. We cant break down, lose our fundamentals on both ends of the floor. If you’re not finishing baskets, you should be able to get down at the other end and defend.”

The Colonials start their conference schedule, unusually early, on the road before coming home and playing non-conference games. Coach Buscaglia told the media postgame on how to prepare for Horizon League play this early in the year.

“Everyone else is locked in now with those first two early ones that we’re gonna see here. It’s something you work for if you put it to this point. It’s gonna all come out now,” he said. “It’s a little unique to play them this early but this is what the schedule says and now we gonna be able to know that’s important to fix those things quickly and back to work right away.”

The Colonials face Detroit Mercy on Thursday and Oakland on Saturday, before returning to UPMC Events Center on Wednesday, November 24 to face the Eagles of Morehead State at 1 p.m.