Late Run Propels Robert Morris Past George Mason in Final Seconds

Alejandra+Mastral+drives+in+for+the+game-winning+layup+in+the+53-52+win+over+George+Mason+Photo+credit%3A+Michael+Deemer

Alejandra Mastral drives in for the game-winning layup in the 53-52 win over George Mason Photo credit: Michael Deemer

By Kevin Plowcha, Podcast GM

MOON TOWNSHIP — Lockdown defense was the key for Robert Morris in their season opener, as they held St Francis (PA) to just 36 points. They looked to repeat that effort Thursday night in a non-conference matchup against the George Mason Patriots and won by a score of 53-52.

The Colonials (2-0) once again came out aggressively on the defensive end, forcing five turnovers by the Patriots (0-2) in the first five minutes. George Mason would end the game with 15 turnovers.

Establishing a defensive identity early in the young season, the Colonials found success, holding their first two opponents to a combined 34 first-half points.

Head coach Charlie Buscaglia spoke postgame about how the defense has been a core focus of his teams both this season and over the years.

“We work on defense every day,” Buscaglia said. “Over the years, going back to even when I was an assistant for my father, the defense has been a staple that we put in. Every day, we’re challenging them to be tougher, which produces a mentality of ‘Even if we aren’t shooting the ball well, we can still win the game.’ That was certainly a product of today’s game.”

Mackenzie Amalia hits a three-point shot in the 53-52 win against George Mason Photo Credit: Michael Deemer

With the addition of five new freshmen and having zero seniors, it’s no secret that the Colonials are a young team.

Buscaglia continues to push his young team to work hard, specifically on the defensive end, and it paid off tonight.

“Our defense was there again a lot of the game,” Buscaglia said. “We worked hard to cause quick shots and turnovers because we knew it would be a tough game. They [George Mason] are a senior-laden team, so we had to play wise beyond our years against some veterans.”

Despite starting the season with a win, questions remained regarding the offense’s production. The offense would need to find a spark with Sol Castro being out for most of this season.

That spark again turned out to be sophomore Phoenix Gedeon, who finished the game with 20 points and nine rebounds.

Gedeon spoke postgame about maintaining the team’s energy and how it felt to come out on top of a close game.

“It felt great to be a part of something big like this,” Gedeon said. “There were some ups and downs, but our team is very defense focused. We played hard the whole game.”

Buscaglia lobbed praise Gedeon’s way after her second straight double-digit scoring performance, as she scored 14 against St. Francis (PA).

“She wants to get better,” Buscaglia said. “She’s willing to put the work in, help the team, and wants to be someone the team can count on. She did a great job today where we needed someone to step up, and she took on some athletic, physical players, so I give her a lot of credit for stepping up.”

One area where the Colonials could capitalize was at the free-throw line. After attempting just four against St. Francis, the Colonials attempted 23 against the Patriots.

Buscaglia showed his dismay at the lack of attempts in the season opener and discussed the jump in attempts from game one to game two.

“Some people look at it as you were 0-4. I look at it as we only shot four,” Buscaglia said. “We got after them about that. For a team that plays physically and hard as we do, that was unacceptable. We needed to go up stronger and attack the basket harder; today, that was something we really improved on. Getting to the line wins and loses games.”

Despite trailing late in the game, the Colonials would end the game on a 7-1 run capped off by a steal and layup by Alejandra Mastral to give the Colonials the lead with just over ten seconds remaining and would hold on from there.

The Colonials continue their season-opening homestretch this Saturday against Waynesburg University. The tip-off is set for 8 p.m.