The women’s basketball team dominated the NEC until Covid-19 shut down the tournament. Plus hockey and other season summaries.
All but one of RMU’s winter and spring sports seasons were ended prematurely by the Covid-19 virus. The NCAA and individual conferences halted winter sports during postseason play and spring sports before they reached their tournaments. But athletes had admirable seasons in all sports, setting records, winning big games, and thrilling their fans.
Men’s basketball won its league-high ninth Northeast Conference Tournament title with a 77-67 victory over Saint Francis U in front of a sold-out crowd at Peoples Court at the UPMC Events Center on March 10. The Colonials punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament, but it was canceled within 48 hours of their winning the NEC title.
The Colonials finished with an overall record of 20-14 in 2019-20, including a 13-5 mark in the conference. RMU earned a second-place finish in the regular season but were the top seed in the NEC Tournament.
Sophomore guard Dante Treacy was named the 2020 NEC Tournament MVP, averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 65 percent from the field. Joining Treacy on the 2020 All-NEC Tournament team were redshirt senior guard Josh Williams and junior forward AJ Bramah, who led the Colonials with averages of 17.3 points and 7.0 rebounds respectively in the NEC Tournament. Williams led Robert Morris in 2019-20 with a scoring average of 13.6 points per game and knocked down 106 three-pointers, the second highest season total in school history.
Women’s basketball won the program's eighth NEC regular-season championship, marking four consecutive league titles. They were the top seed in the NEC tournament, poised to make another NCAA tournament run after winning their first-round matchup, when the tournament was canceled.
RMU finished the season with a 23-7 overall record and 17-1 mark in NEC play, a program record that started with an RMU-best 14-0 start to the conference season. Head coach Charlie Buscaglia won his fourth straight Brenda Reilly NEC Coach of the Year award, tying the league record for total honors.
Three players received All-NEC honors: senior center Nneka Ezeigbo (first team), junior center Irekpitan Ozzy-Momodu (second team), and sophomore guard Isabella Posset (third team). The Colonials set school records in scoring defense (6th nationally), scoring margin, and field goal percentage.
Women’s hockey was the lone winter sports program to complete its season. The Colonials reached the 20-win mark and finished in second place in the College Hockey America standings. They played in the conference championship game for the fourth straight season, falling to top seed Mercyhurst 2-1 in overtime.
The Colonials went 20-12-4 overall and 13-5-2 in conference play. Senior captain Jaycee Gebhard led the league in scoring and became the RMU program all-time points leader in January. Gebhard and junior defender Emily Curlett were named first team All-CHA, freshman goalie Raygan Kirk and forward Maggie Burbidge all-rookie team honorees. Gebhard was named to the USCHO third team and Kirk to the USCHO all-rookie team.
Men’s hockey was in the midst of the Atlantic Hockey tournament, having won the first round series at home and in Connecticut set to begin the quarterfinal round, when the cancelation abruptly came down. The Colonials won a series in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament for the ninth straight season, remaining undefeated in best-of-three playoff series on home ice.
RMU finished 13-19-5 overall with an 11-12-5-1 record in Atlantic Hockey play. Senior Luke Lynch became the 12th player in program history to record 100 career points.
Two-time reigning NEC champions, men’s lacrosse was selected to top the league’s West division in a preseason poll. RMU started the season 4-2, earning wins over Canisius, High Point, Detroit Mercy, and a thriller at Marquette where Brad McCulley scored with 4.7 seconds remaining to give RMU an 11-10 victory.
Senior attackman Ryan Smith established a new single-game record with 10 points and tied the standard with eight goals in the season opener at Canisius. Sophomore goaltender Grant Koopman won his first three starts in the cage, becoming the third Colonial goalie to do so.
Women’s lacrosse opened the season picked third in the NEC coaches’ poll. Led by a nine-player senior class, the Colonials were on a quest for their seventh consecutive NEC tournament berth and had started the season 5-2, including a perfect 4-0 mark at Joe Walton Stadium, when the season was halted.
Senior Mackenzie Gandy finished four points away from breaking the program’s all-time scoring record. But senior goalkeeper Katelyn Miller became the winningest keeper in program history when she earned her 34th career win over Akron on Feb. 21.
Men's golf was picked to defend its title, receiving the top spot in the NEC preseason coaches' poll. The team had competed in one spring event, but completed a fall slate, earning a victory at the Towson Fall invitational to extend its streak to 11 straight years with a win. Senior Max Palmer captured his first medalist honor at the Towson Fall Invitational with a four-under 68. Palmer finished second all-time at RMU in stroke average (74.07), rounds par and under (18), and top-five finishes (12).
Softball was picked to finish sixth in the NEC. The Colonials posted a record of 8-11, participating in tournaments in South Carolina, Florida and twice in North Carolina. Seniors Natalie Higgins and Madison Riggle tied for the team lead in home runs (3) and RBI (12). Higgins hit .349 (22-for-63) with team-highs in doubles (6) and slugging percentage (.587)
WOMEN’S INDOOR TRACK & FIELD
Women’s track & field finished ninth at the 2020 NEC Indoor Track & Field Championships but had not yet begun the outdoor season. Three juniors won silver medals and All-NEC Second Team honors: Yessie Valencia in the weight throw with a toss of 15.75 meters (51’8.25”), Kaitlyn Hawkins in the pole vault with a leap of 3.65 meters (11’11.75”), and Estelle Katende in the shot put with a throw of 13.39 meters (44’0.75”).
The spring season hadn’t yet begun for women’s rowing, but the squad completed a successful fall campaign, winning the first annual Yinzer Cup, the first home event held at the McPhail Boathouse. RMU rowers beat teams from WVU, George Mason, Canisius and Marietta.