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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Charles L. Sewall Center (3,056) -- Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: St. Francis 6-6, RMU 11-2. Away Record: St. Francis 6-10, RMU 10-6. Neutral Record: St. Francis 0-1, RMU 1-1. Conference Record: St. Francis 8-10, RMU 14-4. Series Record: Robert Morris leads, 38-26.
GAME NOTES: The 32nd annual Northeast Conference Tournament gets underway on Wednesday night as the top-seeded Robert Morris Colonials host the Terriers of St. Francis (NY) at the Sewall Center in the Keystone State.
Robert Morris, which is the most successful team in this tournament dating back to the early 1980's when it won the first two titles against Long Island, has taken the trophy a total of seven times and has played in the championship game in each of the last four years. Despite losing to Long Island in both 2011 and 2012, the Colonials return this time around as the favorite after posting a record of 14-4 in conference play and 22-9 overall during the regular season.
As for the Terriers, they needed a 92-80 win in the season finale against Sacred Heart over the weekend in order to secure the eighth and final spot in the tourney. The victory was just the third in the last nine outings for a St. Francis squad that has yet to win the tournament title and has a record of just 10-23 in the event over the years.
Robert Morris owns a 38-26 advantage in the all-time series with the Terriers, although St. Francis has actually won two in a row over the Colonials, including a 71-61 decision at the end of January in Brooklyn.
The winner of the meeting this time around will advance to the semifinals of the tournament on Saturday, with the matchups to be determined based on the seedings of the teams that advance.
Drawing the most attention on the St. Francis roster is Jalen Cannon who led the team in both scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.9 rpg), shooting an impressive 55.4 percent from the floor as he spent most of his time in the paint for the Terriers. Named to the All-NEC Second Team, Cannon was a member of the All-Rookie Team in the NEC last season and has shown considerable progress on offense for the program. Also playing a key role for the squad is Ben Mockford (11.4 ppg) who, despite shooting only 39.4 percent from the floor overall, was actually more accurate beyond the arc (.404) where he knocked down a team-best 82 attempts, the rest of the roster combining to make 122 triples. Akeem Johnson was responsible for 10.1 ppg and 5.8 rpg as well.
While the Colonials certainly pride themselves on having a staunch defense, holding opponents to just 65.8 ppg overall in 2012-13 and 65.2 ppg versus league foes, the squad still recognizes the fact that 3-point shooting has been very good to them at the offensive end of the floor as well. In conference play the team is converting 40.7 percent beyond the arc, hitting a total of 164 triples compared to only 98 for the competition. Overall this year, Karvel Anderson (12.7 ppg) and Coron Williams (9.3 ppg) have been leading the way out on the perimeter with a combined 141 3-pointers which leaves them nine shy of the all-time mark set by a tandem in a single season for RMU. While they attack on the outside, Lucky Jones (11.7 ppg) goes after teams in the paint with his 6.1 rpg.
The Terriers may have caught lightning in a bottle with their win over RMU earlier this season, but now that the stakes are much higher the Colonials will not be so forgiving.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Robert Morris 72, St. Francis (NY) 61
03/06 10:38:39 ET
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