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Robert Morris women lock up top seed in NEC tournament with win over Mount St. Mary's

| Monday, March 3, 2014, 9:30 p.m.

The Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary's women's basketball teams went into Monday's regular-season finale as the top two seeds in the Northeast Conference Tournament.

The No. 1 spot, however, was up for grabs.

Robert Morris (18-11, 14-4) opened a 13-point lead early in the second half, then held on for a 71-65 win at Sewall Center to claim the regular-season title for the first time since 2010.

“It's the first time for me — four years here and first time winning the regular-season championship,” senior Artemis Spanou said. “It's a great feeling, but now we have to stay focused.”

The Colonials will host the conference tournament, beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday against LIU-Brooklyn. They have won their last 10 in a row at home and have not lost a conference game on their court this season.

Spanou logged her 83rd career double-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, and freshman center Cassie Oursler also had a double-double with a season-high 17 points and 18 rebounds. Freshman guard Anna Niki Stamolamprou added 14 points.

Three players scored in double figures for Mount St. Mary's (18-12, 13-5), led by senior guard Ashley Christie with 18 points.

After a back-and-forth first half with four ties and four lead changes, the Colonials went to the break leading 38-32. RMU built a comfortable lead early in the second half starting with a 7-0 run.

“A six-point lead is only two possessions,” RMU coach Sal Buscaglia said. “I don't like six-point leads because you can get comfortable. I was hoping we didn't have a sigh of relief (at halftime), so I told them the start of the second half would be essential, and I really liked the way we came out.”

Robert Morris maintained a double-digit advantage until 10:30 was left when Mount St. Mary's Kayla Grossett made it 54-47 on a basket and a free throw.

With eight minutes remaining, RMU led 59-52.

Christie's 3-pointer cut the Colonials' lead to 64-59 with 3:40 to go, but Mount St. Mary's went 0 for 5 from the field and missed a free throw before Kaufman made a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left.

The Colonials had won the past two games — and 15 of 18 — against Mount St. Mary's. The Mountaineers had won eight straight and hadn't lost since hosting RMU on Feb. 1.

Spanou and fellow seniors Britta Emberg and Kelly Hartwell were honored before the game.

“This is a great accomplishment for us, but it's another season in the playoffs,” Hartwell said. “We have to keep it moving as a team.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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