scored the game-winning basket with eight seconds left to lead Mount St. Mary's to a come-from-behind 63-61 win over Robert Morris at Knott Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Mountaineers (15-14, 12-6 NEC) have now won 10 straight games to move over .500 for the first time since November 28.
The Mount trailed by 13 points early in the second half before rallying for the victory. Atupem scored the Mount's final seven points of the game and finished with a career-high 23 points while adding seven rebounds in the game. He was 8-for-8 from the field and 7-of-11 at the foul line in the contest.
Kelly Beidler (Virginia Beach, Va./Tallwood) added 14 points and seven rebounds while Raven Barber (Edgewood, Md./Paul VI [Va.]) and Jeremy Goode (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day) added nine points each.
Karon Abraham paced Robert Morris (20-11, 15-3 NEC) with 12 points with Rob Robinson chipping in 10 points and six rebounds.
Trailing 60-53 with 3:28 left in the game, Mount St. Mary's closed the game with a 10-to-1 run to earn the win. Beidler started the run with a three-pointer with 2:56 left in the game. After a Robert Morris miss, Atupem coverted in the paint to cut the deficit to 60-58 with 2:06 on the clock.
Mezie Nwigwe and then hit 1-of-2 at the line to give Robert Morris a three-point lead, but point guard Goode fed Atupem for a dunk on a the fast break to make the score 61-60 with 1:39 remaining.
The Mount then forced a shot clock violation on the next Robert Morris possession and Atupem was fouled and hit 1-of-2 with 47 seconds left to even the score at 61-61. Robert Morris guard Velton Jones fell going to the basket and was called for traveling to give the ball back to the Mount for a chance to win.
The Mountaineers found Atupem in the lane and he converted the post move for the game-winning hoop. The Colonials had a chance to win at the end, but Nwigwe's heavily challenged three-pointer at the buzzer was short.
The Mount struggled from the field for most of the game, finishing just 16-of-50 (.320) from the floor and 4-of-15 (.267) from three-point range. The Colonials hit 22-of-45 (.489) from the field, but committed 18 turnovers in the game.
Robert Morris took control of the game early, spurting to a 13-3 lead over the first seven minutes, holding the Mount to 1-of-13 from the field to begin the game. The Colonials stretched the lead to 28-15 on a Dallas Green dunk with 3:54 left in the half, but the Mount answered with nine straight points to get back into the game. A Gary Wallace jumper ended the Mount run to give Robert Morris a 30-24 halftime advantage. Robert Morris held the Mount to 5-of-29 (.172) shooting in the first half.
The Mount snapped a four-game losing streak to rival Robert Morris with the win today. This was the 14th meeting between the two teams since the 2005-06 season, including in each of the past four NEC Tournaments.
With the win, Mount St. Mary's clinched the No. 3 seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament and will host No. 6 seed Saint Francis (Pa.) in a quarterfinal game at Knott Arena at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 4.
Game Notes...The Mount's 10-game win streak is the longest since a 15-game streak during the 1995-96 season... Tickets for the Mount's NEC Quarterfinal home game will go on sale at the ticket office on Monday, March 1st. Fans can call the ticket office (301-447-5700) or stop by during office hours (12 p.m. thru 3:00 p.m.) to purchase tickets. Tickets cost $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students (with ID) and youth (5-18).