Robert Morris set to take on Purdue Fort Wayne in Horizon League Quarterfinal


Nina Augustin fends off Amellia Bromenschenkel of Purdue Fort Wayne. Photo credit: Ethan Morrison

Kevin Plowcha

The Horizon League women’s conference tournament bracket is now officially set. The Robert Morris women’s basketball team will take on the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons in a first-round Horizon League conference tournament matchup on Tuesday, Mar. 1, at 7 p.m.


The Colonials finished as the no. 8 seed in a suddenly hyper-competitive conference, as the seven teams above them all finished with winning records in conference play.

RMU had a rough go in year one in the Horizon League, but this season looked much better and had some bright spots. Despite losing close games and faltering down the stretch, the Colonials finished 13-14 overall with an 11-11 mark in conference play.

After starting the year 3-3, head coach Charlie Buscaglia took an unexpected medical leave of absence.

This promoted associate head coach Scott Schneider to the head coach position for the first time in his career, where he coached the Colonials for their last 21 games of the regular season.

Through those 21 games, RMU went 10-11 and never lost more than three games in a row. However, they never won more than three games in a row, causing the Colonials to hover around .500 for most of the season.

Senior guard Esther Castedo stepped up for the Colonials in a big way, especially during RMU’s first two-game win streak of the season.

Castedo averaged 14.5 points over RMU’s first two-game winning streak and started to cement herself as the team’s leading scorer when 2022 approached.

Scoring came at a bit of a premium for the Colonials down the stretch, but Castedo continued to find ways to put the ball in the basket.

Castedo led the team in scoring this season, finishing with 10.8 points per game, and recently earned Horizon League Third Team honors.

Despite Castedo’s great play, the Colonials could never get over the .500 hump or consistently put it all together. A big reason for that was offensive struggles, as RMU averaged just 54.2 points per game in the regular season.

The Colonials SCORED less than 50 points more often than they wanted to, including just 41 points against Green Bay earlier in the month and a season-low 40 points against IUPUI to end the regular season.

However, the defense proved to stand out, as RMU has held their opponents to under 60 points per game this season.

RMU’s 54.2 points per game this season is about 11 points fewer than the 65 points Purdue Fort Wayne allows per game. The Colonials have gone 1-0 this season when they score over 65 points.

The Colonials are shooting 65.3 percent from the charity stripe as a team, which is good for 10th in the Horizon.

As previously mentioned, Castedo leads the team in points per game with 10.8. Sophomore Sol Castro is second on the team with 8.3 PPG, while Ashya Klopfenstein is behind Castro with 8.1 PPG.

Klopfenstein also leads RMU in rebounds per game this season at 5.3.

However, the Colonials may be without Klopfenstein for this matchup. She suffered a “non-contact injury” early on against UIC on Feb. 24 and did not play against IUPUI on Feb. 26.

Senior guard Nina Augustin has done a great job of facilitating the ball to her teammates efficiently, as she leads the team in assists per game at 2.8 while having just 1.7 turnovers per game.


Conversely, the Mastodons score 59.9 per game, just under two points more than the 58.1 points RMU allows per game. When Purdue Fort Wayne does reach the 58-point threshold, they are 4-0 on the year.

The Mastodons make 81.2 percent of their free throws as a team, the best in the Horizon and third-best in the country.

Riley Ott hit 2.6 free throws per game to lead Purdue Fort Wayne while knocking down 82 percent of her attempts at the line but has not played since Jan. 20 due to a broken wrist.

Purdue Fort Wayne has a trio of players averaging 10 or more points per game: Sylare Starks (11.8 PPG), Shayla Sellers (10.6 PPG) and Riley Ott (10.0 PPG).

Sellers was recently named to the Horizon All-League Third Team alongside Esther Castedo.

PFW’s Ryin Ott also received recognition, as she was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman team.

Robert Morris looks to use home-court advantage in a big way as they get to host the first-round matchup against the Mastodons at the UPMC Events Center. Purdue Fort-Wayne’s fantastic free-throw shooting will certainly keep them in it, but RMU’s defense has shown they can be tough as nails.

This will be a competitive, evenly-matched game as RMU looks to take down Purdue Fort Wayne for the third time this season, previously winning on Jan. 1 and Feb. 11.