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Robert Morris women's basketball team advances to NEC title game

| Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 10:20 p.m.

SMITHFIELD, R.I. — In a word, Anna Niki Stamolamprou went “off” in the second half of Wednesday's Northeast Conference semifinal game against No. 2 seed Bryant.

Stamolamprou, who didn't score in the first half, had 19 points in the second as No. 3 Robert Morris prevailed 72-59 at Chase Center and advanced to the conference championship game against Sacred Heart.

It was the third consecutive year RMU (19-12) eliminated Bryant (18-13) in the conference semifinals.

“I feel like in the first half I had some open looks, but I was just missing,” Stamoloamprou said about shooting 0 for 5 in the first half but 8 for 13 in the second. “The ball just didn't fall in. In the second half, we continued to run the same offense. We didn't change anything, but the ball just went in.”

RMU shot 72.4 percent (21 for 29) in the second half, including 69.2 percent (9 for 13) from 3-point range.

“I felt we were making our shots because our energy went up a lot,” guard Ashley Ravelli said. “I don't think (the lackluster first half) was because we weren't shooting the ball well but because our energy was way down in the first half. We weren't playing our game. In the second half we got important stops. We shot with confidence.”

Stamolamprou was one of four Colonials in double figures. Ravelli scored 14, and Lou Mataly and Megan Smith had 10 apiece.

Alex Klein paced Bryant with a career-high 27 points.

Stamolamprou ignited a fourth-quarter outburst by scoring on a backdoor layup, then nailing a jumper.

Ravelli followed with a 3-pointer, and Stamolamprou scored off a steal to give RMU its first double-digit lead, 55-45.

“I don't think about tomorrow,” said RMU coach Sal Buscaglia, who's retiring at season's end. “I think about today. If I thought about tomorrow, I'd be selling these young ladies short. We don't even think about the game on Sunday.

“We didn't say, ‘one more stop, and we're going to the championship game.' We just kept on saying ‘play each possession.' ”

RMU committed 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Even though Bryant scored only six points off those turnovers, it was one reason Bryant managed 32 shots as compared to 24 for the Colonials.

“I was really proud of the way we came back in the second half,” Buscaglia said. “I know it only was a three-point game at halftime. I was really confident at halftime because we didn't play that well. I felt if we played Robert Morris basketball and moved the ball on offense, I thought we could pull out the victory.”

Mike Scandura is a freelance writer.

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