Robert Morris rings in the new year with victory over Mastodons

Nina+Augustin+drives+to+the+hoop+in+Saturdays+win+over+Purdue+Fort+Wayne.+Photo+credit%3A+Ethan+Morrison

Nina Augustin drives to the hoop in Saturday’s win over Purdue Fort Wayne. Photo credit: Ethan Morrison

By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP– After defeating Cleveland State Thursday evening, Robert Morris (5-6, 3-3) looked to start a winning streak on New Year’s Day as they squared off against Purdue Fort Wayne (4-9, 3-3) on Saturday afternoon.

They did just that, defeating the Mastodons by a final score of 52-48.

Associate head coach Scott Schneider expressed his feelings on pulling out two league wins after a two-week hiatus.

“It was about the process to get here and that’s something that we talked about with the team… we took two weeks off and it took 4-5 days to get back in shape and a decent number of them were battling illness and to get them in shape and prepare them for two games in three days… there were points today where we looked tired but at every step of it we talked to them about working hard, getting their motors back,”

“Now, looking back on it, we get to breathe and it brings a smile to our face, and it was a happy locker room winning today knowing the challenge at hand that we faced and overcame. I joked with the team about it and I told them if someone were to tell me we were going to take a two-week hiatus and come back in two league games I would say that it would be a minor miracle for that to happen and here we are at this moment.”

Just like in their win on Thursday, the Robert Morris defense came out in full force, forcing a shot clock violation in the opening possessions of the game.

Schneider raved about the team’s effort on the defensive end.

“We value the fact that when the adversity comes, it’s usually the other team that is making the run, it’s usually those moments when we aren’t because we are not making shots it’s when we are getting beat in other areas,” Schneider said. “We emphasized this week the mindset that we have to defend the ball with five players, it’s not a one-woman position. Everyone needs to see the ball and needs to be active on defense.”

That allowed Robert Morris to jump out to an 8-2 run to begin the game. First-year head coach for the Mastodons, Maria Marchesano, had to call a timeout to stop the bleeding.

That seemed to help Purdue Fort Wayne as they cut the Colonial lead in half by the halfway point of the first quarter.

Scoring from both sides slowed down towards the end of the first quarter as Robert Morris led by six points after 10 minutes.

Both teams traded baskets back and forth for the opening minutes of the second quarter.

By the halfway point of the second quarter, Robert Morris led by five points.

Out of the media timeout, Robert Morris’ Ashya Klopfenstein nailed a jumper from the field followed by an Esther Castedo three-pointer.

At halftime, Robert Morris took an eight-point lead into the locker room. For the second straight game, the Colonials held their opponent to under 30-percent shooting from the field as the Mastodons shot just 20-percent in the first half. Riley Ott led the way for IPFW with six points.

As for RMU, Ashya Klopfenstein led the team with seven points as the team shot 52-percent from the field and 28-percent from beyond the arc.

Robert Morris had the opening possession of the second half, and after Castedo was held to just three points in the first half, she opened up with a three-point field goal to kick things off in the third quarter.

After the Castedo basket, the Colonials cooled off which allowed the Mastodons to jump back into the game as they went on a 9-0 to cut the lead down to just two points, forcing Schneider to call Robert Morris’ first timeout of the second half.

Alejandra Mastral stopped the bleeding out of the timeout with a layup to put RMU up four at the media timeout.

By the end of the third quarter, Robert Morris led by three points.

It was back-and-forth action once again to begin the fourth quarter as Purdue Fort Wayne cut the Colonials’ lead down to one.

Castedo and Simone Morris added some cushion to the RMU lead as they hit two three-pointers goal increasing the lead to seven points with 1:06 to go in the game.

IPFW continued to fight back and with under 30 seconds to go in the game. Aubrey Stupp was fouled by Castro and the basket counted.

The Mastodons completed the and-one opportunity to cut the lead down to two, but some timely free throws from Nina Augustin put the game away.

Overall, Robert Morris shot the ball at a 43-percent rate while holding the Mastodons to just 25-percent.

Castedo discussed how well the team has played on the defensive front.

“We have an identity on defense. Every single game we might have some adjustments our base defense is our base defense we pressure the ball, we deny, we play with energy and that is something you can not change you just have to adjust,” Castedo said. “It has to be in our minds, it has to be in our heart, and that’s something that we have been working on and we just have to build on that.”

However, the Colonials did struggle on the boards, getting outrebounded 43-29. Schneider mentioned the rebounding struggles during today’s game.

“Rebounding was not to our level that we expect. That’s something that we are going to reflect on and figure out what created that and find adjustments to make it better.”

Castedo led the way for RMU with 11 points while Ott and Shayla Sellers held a share of the lead in points for Purdue Fort Wayne with 14 apiece.

Robert Morris is back in action on Friday as they travel to take on Northern Kentucky in Highland Heights at 7:00 p.m.