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Winless RMU women's basketball team forges ahead

| Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, 7:02 p.m.

In Sunday's game at Minnesota, as in most contests this season, the Robert Morris women's basketball team was competitive for a while.

And, like every other game this season, the Colonials came up short.

The loss dropped them to 0-8, the worst start of coach Sal Buscaglia's tenure. That includes his first season in 2003-04, when Robert Morris went 3-24 after winning one game the season before.

“I guess you're going to have years like this, and you just have to live with it,” Buscaglia said. “But I'd rather live with it with these kids than anyone else. These are the greatest kids, one of my tops in 35 years.”

Robert Morris' problems are numerous, and they got worse Dec. 2 when starting point guard Jasmine Tate was lost for the season with a knee injury. Buscaglia feared that Tate, who has suffered through injuries her entire career, would be out for a while. Tate's loss means more minutes for freshman Randi Jackson and that Buscaglia needed to pick a guard who has never played the point to learn the position.

It's the latest in a series of setbacks for the program.

A handful of players transferred last season, which left Artemis Spanou as the only returning starter. And projected starting center Jolie Olingende was lost to injury before the season even started.

“You have to be good, and you have to be lucky,” Buscaglia said. “We're young, and we're not lucky.”

The Colonials also have played a tough schedule, with four of seven games on the road, including contests at two Big Ten schools. Their game at Minnesota made it three (they lost 58-44 at Iowa and 68-35 at Michigan State).

Duquesne coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said she was surprised by the Colonials' struggles.

“They play so hard, it could be a fatigue factor down the stretch, but they just haven't been able to finish out games,” she said. “I think they're very talented.”

Spanou has been a bright spot.

Despite being double- and sometimes triple-teamed, the junior forward and 2011-12 All-Northeast Conference first-team player has managed to register a double-double in six of the eight games. She scored 24 points and pulled down 15 rebounds against Minnesota to lead all scorers. Despite the team's struggles, she said her teammates are tough.

“It is frustrating, but we have to stick in there,” she said. “We have a long way to go still, so we have to stay strong, all of us, and keep getting better every day. It's hard (being 0-8), but we are closer and closer each game. We have to keep going.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7980 or kprice@tribweb.com.

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