By John Agovino, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sewall Center (3,056) -- Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Mount St. Mary's 12-2, Robert Morris 13-2. Away Record: Mount St. Mary's 7-10, Robert Morris 9-7. Neutral Record: Mount St. Mary's 0-0, Robert Morris 1-1. Conference Record: Mount St. Mary's 12-6, Robert Morris 15-3. Series Record: Mount St. Mary's leads, 24-21.
GAME NOTES: Mount St. Mary's will try to capture its second consecutive Northeast Conference Tournament title when the second-seeded Mountaineers take on the top-seeded Robert Morris Colonials in the Championship matchup at the Sewall Center.
Last year the Mountaineers grabbed their third NEC title with a 68-55 victory over Sacred Heart. Overall Mount St. Mary's is 15-10 in this event and have won six of its last seven NEC Tournament contests. This year the Mountaineers opened postseason play with a 72-62 victory over Wagner, and followed that win with a hard-fought 68-62 decision over Sacred Heart.
As for the Colonials, they have barely broke a sweat in this event, defeating St. Francis (NY) 73-60, while also clobbering Quinnipiac, 75-48, in the semifinals. Robert Morris finished atop the conference with a 15-3 record and has won eight of its last 10 games. The Colonials' history in this event is deep, as the team has grabbed five NEC titles, but none since 1992.
Mount St. Mary's has a slim 24-21 edge over Robert Morris in the all-time series and has a 3-2 advantage over the Colonials in meetings in the NEC Tournament. However, Robert Morris has won the last six matchups against the Mountaineers, including both meetings this season.
Defense has been a main priority for the Mountaineers throughout the season, as the squad is holding opponents to just 63.3 ppg. In the semifinal victory over Sacred Heart, the Mountaineers limited their opponent to just 63 points, despite allowing Sacred Heart to shoot 49.0 percent from the floor. At the other end of the court the team shot 46.2 percent from the floor and connected on 16-of-22 attempts from the foul line. Kelly Beidler led the way with 13 points, while Jeremy Goode and Shawn Atupem added 12 points apiece. Will Holland contributed 11 points off the bench, while Jean Cajou made just 1- of-10 attempts, finishing with only six points. Cajou is posting 13.3 ppg on the year, but the team's top source has been Goode, who is averaging 15.3 ppg, to go along with a team-best 4.1 apg. Beidler has been the top option in the paint, as the big man is posting 11.0 ppg, to go along with 6.9 rpg.
The Colonials exploded in their semifinal victory over Quinnipiac, shooting a sizzling 58.8 percent from the floor, en route to a 27-point victory. Robert Morris committed just 10 turnovers in the win and connected on 9-of-21 attempts from long range. Jeremy Chappell erupted for 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Bateko Francisco and Jimmy Langhurst contributed 12 points apiece. Throughout the season Robert Morris has relied on strong play offensively, as the team is producing 71.4 ppg, behind a very strong 48.0 percent shooting effort. Chappell has done everything for this club, and is leading the team in scoring (16.9 ppg), rebounds (6.3 rpg), assists (3.2 apg), and steals (81). Rob Robinson is contributing 11.4 ppg and 5.5 rpg, while Langhurst is chipping in 10.1 ppg.
The Mountaineers are a perfect 3-0 in NEC title games, but the Colonials are playing at their highest level, and should be able to defeat the defending champs, en route to their sixth NEC Championship.
Sports Network Predict Outcome: Robert Morris 75, Mount St. Mary's 67
03/11 10:24:26 ET
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