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Robert Morris

Robert Morris women fall in NEC title game, lose out on NCAA tourney bid

| Sunday, March 15, 2015, 3:18 p.m.
Robert Morris's Anna Niki Stamolamprou walks off the court after the NEC Tournament championship game against St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris's Anna Niki Stamolamprou walks off the court after the NEC Tournament championship game against St. Francis Brooklyn on Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris' Jocelynne Jones (right) has the ball knocked away by St. Francis Brooklyn's Leah Fechko during the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris' Jocelynne Jones (right) has the ball knocked away by St. Francis Brooklyn's Leah Fechko during the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris' Megan Smith get denied by St. Francis Brooklyn's Leah Fechko in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris' Megan Smith get denied by St. Francis Brooklyn's Leah Fechko in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris's Judith Sole and St. Francis Brooklyn's Jaymee Veney battle for the tipoff in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris's Judith Sole and St. Francis Brooklyn's Jaymee Veney battle for the tipoff in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris' Mikalah Mulrain has the ball knocked away by St. Francis Brooklyn's Jaymee Veney in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris' Mikalah Mulrain has the ball knocked away by St. Francis Brooklyn's Jaymee Veney in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris' Rebeca Navarro fouls as she battles St. Francis Brooklyn's Sarah Benedetti in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris' Rebeca Navarro fouls as she battles St. Francis Brooklyn's Sarah Benedetti in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris' Jolie Olingende is outmuscled by St. Francis Brooklyn's Jaymee Veney in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris' Jolie Olingende is outmuscled by St. Francis Brooklyn's Jaymee Veney in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia hangs his head as time winds down in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia hangs his head as time winds down in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia argues a call against St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia argues a call against St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia greets Anna Niki Stamolamprou near the end of the game against St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia greets Anna Niki Stamolamprou near the end of the game against St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris's teammates Jolie Olingende (left) and Rebeca Navarro embrace after losing to St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris's teammates Jolie Olingende (left) and Rebeca Navarro embrace after losing to St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris' Shakema Dashiell and Judith Sole embrace following a loss to St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris' Shakema Dashiell and Judith Sole embrace following a loss to St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Robert Morris women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia argues a call against St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Robert Morris women's basketball coach Sal Buscaglia argues a call against St. Francis Brooklyn in the NEC Tournament championship game Sunday, March 15, 2015, at Sewall Center.

The Robert Morris women's basketball team watched its hopes for a repeat trip to the NCAA Tournament vanish Sunday.

St. Francis Brooklyn took over in the second half at Sewall Center and captured its first Northeast Conference Tournament championship, 77-62, completing an improbable postseason run. The fifth-seeded Terriers defeated the first, third and fourth seeds — all on the road. They are the first team to claim the NEC title by winning three road games and the second team to win despite owning a losing record (15-18).

“They deserve it,” Robert Morris coach Sal Buscaglia said. “All credit goes to them and coach (John) Thurston. They went through the top seeds on the road. How could you not give them credit?”

The third-seeded Colonials (17-15), who never led during the second half, fell to 15-2 in NEC Tournament home games.

Junior Ashley Ravelli led Robert Morris with 17 points. Sophomore point guard Anna Niki Stamolamprou had 12 points but just three in the second half after injuring her left knee with 17 minutes remaining.

She continued to play, trying two different braces to stabilize the knee, but clearly was not 100 percent.

Senior Sarah Benedetti led the Terriers with 29 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Jaymee Veney and Eilidh Simpson each had 14 points, and Leah Fechko added 13.

Despite the Terriers never having advanced past the semifinals, Buscaglia said he believed their experience with four seniors and one junior in the starting lineup helped when the game was on the line.

Robert Morris led early but trailed 32-29 at halftime. The Colonials tied it at 38-38 on a free throw by Mikalah Mulrain with 14:47 left and again at 40-40 after a Ravelli jump shot.

The Terriers dominated the rest of the way.

The Terriers were one of three current NEC teams never to have won the tournament title, joining Bryant and Central Connecticut State.

“Robert Morris played a great game. The first half was back and forth, and it was very close,” Simpson said. “In the second half, we were able to pull away. Sarah hit some big shots, and it was an unbelievable feeling coming down the stretch knowing we were going to win.”

The Colonials were hoping to join their men's team in qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. In a twist, the men defeated St. Francis Brooklyn on the road to win the conference's automatic bid.

“I think experience played a big role in the second half,” Ravelli said. “We're a young team. I felt like we played with a lot of intensity and energy, but they didn't back down at all.”

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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