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Robert Morris wins second straight Northeast Conference title
Hamden, CT (Sports Network) - Karon Abraham scored 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and Robert Morris secured its second straight Northeast Conference Tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament with a thrilling 52-50 win over Quinnipiac.
Abraham added three steals for the second-seeded Colonials (23-11), who won their seventh conference championship in school history. Dallas Green and Russell Johnson each provided nine points in the exciting victory.
"We talk about perseverance a lot. Things weren't exactly in an offensive flow tonight, but it's about perseverance. The hearts of our guys matched last year. I didn't think anything would match last year, but they did," Colonials head coach Mike Rice said.
James Feldeine scored 17 points to lead the top-seeded Bobcats (23-9), who were denied their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since becoming a Division I program in 1998-99. Justin Rutty contributed 12 points and 10 boards in defeat.
This game was played on Quinnipiac's home floor, where the team had been 14-0 this season entering the game.
Feldeine missed a deep two-point jumper with 51 seconds left that would have tied the game, but instead Robert Morris maintained a 50-48 advantage.
Abraham went to dribble up the court but slipped and was called out of bounds with 19.3 ticks on the clock, giving the Bobcats another chance. Feldeine again tried a deep jumper, but the shot was blocked and knocked out of bounds by a Quinnipiac player with 9.3 seconds left.
Green and James Johnson traded a pair of free throws, leading to a trip to the line for Abraham with 2.8 seconds left. Normally an 87 percent free throw shooter, Abraham missed both, but a desperation heave from beyond half court fell well short of the basket.
"To hold us to six field goals in the second half and 35 percent shooting is phenomenal. That was my fear coming into the game because of my great respect for Robert Morris' defense. They can really, really wear you down defensively," said Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore.
Quinnipiac put together an 11-0 run over about five minutes in the first half to take a 15-10 lead on a pair of Jeremy Baker free throws, but Robert Morris was able to trim that deficit to 25-23 at halftime.
Neither team held more than a four-point lead at any time in the second half, and that margin last came with 16 minutes left on a Feldeine jumper. Robert Morris went back ahead by three, 44-41, on a Rob Robinson basket with 6:12 to play, but Rutty came back to tie the game at 48-all for the Bobcats on a pair from the line with 1:41 on the clock.
Velton Jones followed with a made shot for the Colonials for a 50-48 contest.
Robert Morris beat seventh-seeded Central Connecticut State in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Mount St. Mary's in the semifinals...Quinnipiac defeated eighth-seeded Monmouth in the quarters and fourth-seeded Long Island in the semis...The Bobcats took the lone season meeting, but Robert Morris leads the all-time series, 15-8...Both teams went 15-3 in conference play during the regular season...By virtue of Quinnipiac's regular season conference title, the Bobcats are guaranteed a bid into the National Invitation Tournament if not selected for the NCAA Tournament.
03/11 03:07:06 ET
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