Robert Morris Holds Off Mount St. Mary’s for 69-65 Win in NEC Semifinals

Robert Morris Holds Off Mount St. Mary’s for 69-65 Win in NEC Semifinals

Moon Township, Pa. (March 14, 2019) – Robert Morris held off a fourth quarter comeback attempt by Mount St. Mary's and escaped with a 69-65 win on Thursday night in the Northeast Conference (NEC) Semifinals at the North Athletic Complex. The Mount finishes the season at 15-16 overall, which is the most victories for the team since the 2013-14 campaign.

Senior Juliette Lawless registered a team-high 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and also recorded five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Lawless rounds out her Mount St. Mary's career ranked 28th in program history in career scoring with 960 points.

Michaela Harrison helped fuel the offense with 14 points to go along with seven rebounds in the tilt. The rookie concludes the campaign with 84 three-pointers, which is a Mount St. Mary's single-season program record.

Rebecca Lee was the other Mountaineer to finish in double-figures, posting 13 points and eight boards.

Robert Morris (21-10) was led by Nneka Ezeigbo, who tallied 23 points and 10 rebounds to record the double-double. Nina Augustin registered 12 points, and Esther Castedo and Nadege Pluvose both added nine points.

The Mount shot 39 percent overall and made just 5-of-21 (.238) from three-point territory. Robert Morris posted a 46.2 percent shooting night and converted 7-of-14 (.500) from long range.

The Mountaineers, who trailed 51-39 entering the fourth, battled back early in the final period, scoring nine straight to begin the quarter. Lawless recorded the first six points of the run to ignite the rally, which concluded by pulling the Mount within three of the Colonials, 51-48.  

Honoka Ikematsu broke up the run with a step-back three at the 6:40 mark to stretch the RMU advantage to 54-48. The teams traded baskets over the ensuing two minutes before Ezeigbo converted a traditional three-point play to push the Colonial lead to 61-52.

The Mount countered with five straight on a pair of free throws from Alexis Wooden and a three from the wing by Harrison to close the gap to 61-57.

With Mount St. Mary's still trailing by four heading into the final minute, Lawless fired off a three-pointer that hit off the front iron, and Augustin came down with the defensive rebound with 35 seconds remaining.

After a timeout by the Colonials, the Mountaineers fouled Augustin and sent her to the line, where she made 1-of-2 to push the lead to 64-59. On the ensuing possession, Bridget Birkhead knocked down a huge three from the corner off a feed from Lawless to pull the Mount within a pair, 64-62, with 26 seconds remaining.

Following another timeout that advanced the ball to the Colonials offensive end, the Mountaineers tried to double team on the inbounds pass and go for the steal but RMU found Ezeigbo open in the paint. Ezeigbo converted the layup and was fouled on the play. The center made the free throw to complete the three-point play and put RMU up 67-62 with 16 seconds left.

The Mountaineers called timeout to advance the ball down court, and they were able to capitalize as Harrison hit a three from the wing to cut the deficit to 67-65. On the ensuing inbounds pass, the Mount nearly came up with a huge steal but the deflection bounced right to Ikematsu, who was fouled and sent to the line. Ikematsu made the first and missed the second, but RMU's Augustin corralled the offensive rebound. She was fouled and made 1-of-2 to extend the lead to 69-65 with 9.3 seconds on the clock. In the waning seconds, Harrison's three-pointer came up short and Robert Morris held on for the 69-65 victory.

The Colonials head to the NEC Championship, which will take place on Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m. The contest and will be televised on ESPNU.