Robert Morris women roll into NEC semifinals
Robert Morris women’s basketball coach Charlie Buscaglia likes to talk about how his program is built on humility.
“We don’t think too much of ourselves or too little of ourselves,” he said after his team’s historically easy 68-35 victory against Fairleigh Dickinson in a Northeast Conference quarterfinal game. “We just go play the next game.”
Keeping the players humble — Buscaglia’s No. 1 rule — was the Colonials’ most impressive achievement at Sewall Center on Sunday. Fairleigh Dickinson coach Peter Cirella, whose team lost to Robert Morris in an NEC quarterfinal for the third consecutive season, aptly described the situation: “They’re 12-14 points better than us when we play at our best.”
The victory lifts Robert Morris into the NEC semifinals for the seventh consecutive season. The No. 1-seeded Colonials (20-10) will play No. 6 Central Connecticut (11-19) at 7 p.m. at Sewall Center.
The game was a rout from start to finish, even with point guard Janee Brown out with an injured left ankle and NEC Player of the Year Anna Niki Stamolamprou missing most of the third quarter with foul trouble.
But Fairleigh Dickinson was scoreless for six minutes with Stamolamprou on the bench. The Knights’ 35 points were the smallest by a Robert Morris opponent since an 85-24 victory against Chatham on Feb. 28, 1980.
With 10 women playing at least 10 minutes, Robert Morris’ 33-point margin of victory matched its largest in a postseason game.
“We’re all trying to serve each other,” he said.
With Brown out, Buscaglia turned to freshmen Nia Adams and Jalynn Burton-Jones and junior Shakema Dashiell to run the offense, with plenty of help from Stamolamprou. Dashiell led Robert Morris with five assists.
Stamolamprou scored 15 points to share scoring honors with Megan Smith, whose double-double included 10 rebounds. Freshman Nadege Pluviose added 13 points.
Another victory puts the Colonials (20-10) in the NEC championship game for the fourth year in a row. Buscaglia’s reaction: a shrug of the shoulders.
“If we get to this point, we’re not going to stop and think about it,” he said.
“I guess if you don’t stop to look at it, it keeps happening.”