Moon Township, Pa. (March 9, 2013)—Fifth-seeded Mount St. Mary's upset top-seeded Robert Morris, 69-60, in the Northeast Conference Tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon. Junior Rashad Whack poured in 26 points to pace the Mount, who advances to the NEC Championship game on Tuesday night at LIU Brooklyn.
Leading 35-27 early in the second half, Mount point guard Julian Norfleet went down with an ankle injury with 15:22 remaining. However, Mount St. Mary's responded with a 12-2 run to take control of the game. Sam Prescott started the spurt with a three-pointer, and Whack followed with a difficult three-pointer from the right wing to stretch the margin to 42-29.
Prescott then converted an and-one on the fast break, and Whack added a breakaway lay-up after a steal to push the advantage to 47-29 with 9:05 left in the game.
The Colonials (23-10) cut the Mount advantage to 49-36, but Whack nailed a three-pointer and Kelvin Parker slammed home an alley-oop on a feed from Prescott to make it 54-36 with 5:49 remaining. A Parker fade-away jumper stretched the advantage to 20 points before Robert Morris rallied.
Robert Morris used a 15-to-2 run to cut the Mount lead to 58-51 with 2:56 left. Anthony Myers-Pate and Lucky Jones had back-to-back three-pointers and Mike McFadden a dunk to cap the run. The Mount missed on the next possession, but forced a turnover and Whack was fouled with 2:00 left. The junior guard calmly sank both free throws to push the lead back to nine.
Robert Morris whittled the lead to 62-56 on a Lucky Jones bucket with 1:03 left, but the Mount held off the Colonials by going 7-of-10 at the charity stripe in the final minute to earn the win.
Whack finished the game 7-of-10 from the field, 4-of-5 from three-point range, and 8-of-11 at the foul line for his game-high 26 points. He is averaging 22.5 points over the first two games of the NEC Tournament. Prescott chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Norfleet added eight points and two assists.
Myers-Pate led Robert Morris with 15 points while Lucky Jones added 10 in the loss. The Mount held First Team All-NEC guard Velton Jones to nine points on 2-of-17 shooting in the game.
Mount St. Mary's shot 44.7 percent in the game, and was 8-of-17 (.471) from three-point range. Robert Morris shot just 34.4 percent overall, and was 5-of-19 (.263) from three-point range.
In the opening half, the Mount outscored Robert Morris, 17-8, over the final 11:46 of the first half to take a 29-23 advantage at the break. Trailing 15-12, Norfleet started the streak with a three-pointer to even the score. Each team made a pair of free throws, before a 6-0 Mount run made the score 23-17. Prescott started the mini-run with a nice drive, while Kristijan Krajina added back-to-back buckets.
A Prescott three-pointer from the top of the key gave the Mount a 26-19 lead and a Norfleet triple from the left corner made it 29-21 with 2:03 left in the half. Robert Morris guard Karvel Anderson hit a pair of free throws to cut the Mount lead to 29-23.
Mount St. Mary's held Robert Morris to 34.6 percent shooting in the first half, including just 1-of-7 (.143) from three-point range. The Mount was 10-of-24 (.417) from the field in the first half, including 5-of-8 (.625) from three-point range. Norfleet and Whack led the Mountaineers with eight points each in the half.
The Mount will head back on the road to take on two-time defending champion LIU Brooklyn in the NEC Championship game on Tuesday, March 12, at 7:00 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN2.
Game Notes: The Mount is now 4-4 all-time in the NEC Tournament against Robert Morris…This was the sixth meeting between the teams in the NEC Tournament over the past eight years between the teams…The Mount is 5-6 all-time in the NEC semifinal round….The Mount's last appearance in the NEC title game was a 48-46 loss to Robert Morris in 2010.