MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) — Rashad Whack scored 20 points and four of his teammates finished in double figures and Mount St. Mary’s clinched an NCAA tournament berth with an 88-71 victory against Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference title game Tuesday night.
The fourth-seeded Mountaineers (16-16) built a 20-point first-half lead and never looked back, shooting 60.4 percent from the field to win their fourth conference title in school history and first since 2008.
Julian Norfleet scored 17; Taylor Danaher and Sam Prescott scored 15, and Will Miller added 11 for the Mountaineers, whose four NEC championship game victories all came on the road.
Robert Morris (21-13) never led and never pulled closer than 10 points of Mount St. Mary’s in the second half. Robert Morris won both games between the teams during the regular season.
The Colonials, who switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone defense because of defensive woes earlier this season, were undone by the Mountaineers’ perimeter shooting. Mount St. Mary’s made 8 of its 18 3-point attempts.
Karvel Anderson scored 21 points to lead the Colonials, who lost the NEC championship game for the third time in the past four years. The team has dressed just eight players since January, when the university suspended four players, including two starters, one year for an unspecified violation of school policy.
Mount St. Mary’s used a bunch of 3-pointers to build its commanding first-half lead. The Mountaineers made their first four 3-pointers of the game and finished the first half 6 of 9 from 3-point range. They shot 69.2 percent (18 of 26) to take a 48-32 lead into halftime.
The last time Mount St. Mary’s and Robert Morris met with the NEC title on the line, the Mountaineers scored just 46 points in a 48-46 loss at the Charles L. Sewall Center.
Norfleet led the Mountaineers with 14 first-half points, one of three Mount St. Mary’s players in double figures after the first half.
It was the second consecutive season Mount St. Mary’s upset a top-seeded Robert Morris team in the NEC tournament after the Mountaineers beat the Colonials last year in the semifinals. The two teams have met in seven of the past nine conference tournaments, and Mount St. Mary’s has won four of those matchups.
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