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Robert Morris women rout Fairleigh Dickinson in NEC Tourney

| Sunday, March 8, 2015, 4:46 p.m.
Cal (Pa.) guard Kaitlynn Fratz goes to the basket for a layup during the PSAC championship game Sunday, March 8, 2015, at Bloomsburg. The Vulcans beat West Chester, 86-70.
Jamie North | Bloomsburg University
Cal (Pa.) guard Kaitlynn Fratz goes to the basket for a layup during the PSAC championship game Sunday, March 8, 2015, at Bloomsburg. The Vulcans beat West Chester, 86-70.

The Robert Morris women's basketball team pulled away in the second half and defeated Fairleigh Dickinson, 89-61, in a Northeast Conference Tournament quarterfinal Sunday at Sewall Center.

Sophomore guard Rebecca Navarro scored a career-high 23 points, and fellow sophomore Anna-Niki Stamalomprou had 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the defending champion Colonials (16-14). Freshman forward Megan Smith scored 12 points.

Third-seeded Robert Morris will play at No. 1 Bryant at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“We had energy the whole game. I'm proud of our team,” Stamolamprou said. “I guess in the second half we had more open lanes to drive, but that was it.”

Erika Livermore led No. 6 Fairleigh Dickinson (10-20) with 19 points. Kelsey Cruz had 18 points, and Tiffany Grant scored 10.

The Colonials led 40-38 at halftime. Six minutes into the second half, they were still clinging to a two-point lead.

Robert Morris went ahead 57-48 on two baskets from Navarro and a 3-point play from Stamolamprou. The 7-0 run gave the Colonials some breathing room.

“We posted up Cruz in the second half,” said Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia. “Rebecca is not a post player. She never practices post-ups. But Cruz had foul trouble, and she's really good offensively but doesn't focus as much defensively.

“We adjusted a play on (associate coach Charlie Buscaglia's) advice at halftime and did a different type of play that originally didn't include Rebecca doing what she was doing, but we put her in the low post and scored right off the bat.”

With 5:23 to go, the Colonials led 71-55 and held Fairleigh Dickinson to just six points the rest of the way.

“I thought we played a great first half,” Fairleigh Dickinson coach Peter Cinella said. “Both teams were extremely offensively efficient. In the second half they continued to hit shot after shot and took away some of things we were doing to take good shots. Then we were missing easy shots, and it was just a snowball going down a hill.

The Colonials finished with a season high in points scored and shooting percentage (54.3), and outrebounded the Knights, 40-32.

Fairleigh Dickinson took an early lead and was up by as many as five points six minutes into the game. Robert Morris got a boost from its bench midway through the first half. That, combined with two late buckets from Judith Sole and 11 first-half points from Navarro, gave them the lead going into the break.

All 11 players scored for the Colonials for the fourth time this season.

Robert Morris' bench outscored Fairleigh Dickinson's, 21-4.

Robert Morris continues its title defense at top-seed Bryant, with whom the Colonials split the season series with an 87-84 win at home and a 69-66 loss at Bryant.

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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