Robert Morris gets another chance at IUPUI, this time in the Horizon League Quarterfinals

Alejandra+Mastral+looks+to+navigate+around+Rachel+Kent+of+IUPUI.+Photo+credit%3A+Gabriella+Rankin

Alejandra Mastral looks to navigate around Rachel Kent of IUPUI. Photo credit: Gabriella Rankin

By Kevin Plowcha, Podcast GM

Tuesday night was one to remember for the Robert Morris women’s basketball team, as they took down Purdue Fort Wayne in the first round of the Horizon League tournament by a score of 70-56.

Head coach Charlie Buscaglia also returned to the sidelines that night, which was his first time coaching the team in just three months.

For a team that averaged just 54 points per game going into Tuesday night’s contest, scoring 70 points was a big deal.

RMU had done that just one other time this season when they scored 73 against Oakland in a win.

ROBERT MORRIS – OVERCOMING ADVERSITY

The win over Purdue Fort Wayne was the culmination of a season filled with adversity, as the Colonials had to continuously fight and claw to get to this point despite everything thrown at them.

Charlie Buscaglia was absent for most of the season. He last coached the Colonials to a 57-43 win over Canisius on Nov. 27th before returning on Tuesday night.

A couple of days later, the team announced that Buscaglia would be taking a medical leave of absence, leaving assistant coach Scott Schneider to step in and fill the role.

Having Schneider at the helm was certainly different, but he has been with the program since 2009. Schneider had the experience and dedication to step into the role.

RMU continued to grow and develop each game despite Buscaglia not being there.

Next, COVID issues plagued the team in mid-December and early January. Three games had to be canceled due to positive test results, which took away opportunities for this team to get on the court.

Finally, the injuries. While no long-term injuries plagued RMU for most of the season, the Colonials still had their fair share of missed playing time.

Esther Castedo, Natalie Villaflor and Phoenix Gedeon all missed at least one game throughout the season due to injury.

However, the most significant blow came on Feb. 24th when the Colonials took on UIC. Ashya Klopfenstein suffered a non-contact injury just four minutes into the game, and will likely miss the rest of the year.

The absence of Klopfenstein takes away some size on a Colonials team that isn’t the biggest, to begin with. However, Gedeon and Villaflor have filled in the time while Klopfenstein recovers.

Despite all of this, RMU finds itself in the Horizon League tournament quarterfinals, taking on the no. 1 seeded IUPUI Jaguars.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: IUPUI

For IUPUI, this is just another game. The Jaguars had just six losses in the regular season, finishing with a 21-6, and two of their losses were forfeits due to COVID.

In their first game of the season, they took no. 11 Michigan to overtime, showing they could hang even with a power-five school.

This season, the Jaguars have beaten most of their opponents by double digits, including RMU.

IUPUI is also playing their best basketball right now, as they have won 16 of their last 17 contests coming into this game.

You put that all together, and it makes sense why they are the #1 seed in this year’s Horizon League tournament.

They are led by seniors Macee Williams and Rachel McLimore. Williams, a senior center, averaged a double-double this season (18 points and 10 rebounds), while McLimore is averaging nearly 13 PPG.

IUPUI has dispatched RMU in their two meetings during the regular season. On Jan. 14th at the UPMC Events Center, they first saw IUPUI win by a score of 63-44. Williams and McLimore combined for 34 points in that contest for the Jaguars.

Most recently, when RMU traveled to Indianapolis on Feb. 26th, which was less than a week ago, the Colonials had no answer for the Jaguars.

Albeit, the Colonials were playing without Ashya Klopfenstein. However, RMU put up a season-low 40 points and lost by 33.

Signs seem to be pointing toward another lopsided loss, but the Colonials have continued to fight and play hard throughout the season no matter the situation.

RMU has overcome a ton of adversity to get to this point, so why can’t they overcome this? It is March, after all.