MOUNT ST. MARY'S (15-15, 8-10 NEC) at ROBERT MORRIS (20-10, 16-2 NEC)
Thursday, March 14 | 7:00 p.m.
Moon Township, Pa. | North Athletic Complex
SETTING THE SCENE
No. 6 seed Mount St. Mary's will face No. 1 Robert Morris in the Northeast Conference (NEC) Semifinals on Thursday, March 14 at the North Athletic Complex in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. The teams will tip off at 7 p.m., and action can be seen for on both ESPN3 and NEC Front Row. The winner will head to the NEC Championship, which will take place on Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m. That contest and will be televised on ESPNU.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
With a win over Robert Morris on Thursday, the Mountaineers would become the lowest seed to advance to the NEC Championship Game since No. 7 seed UMBC back in 2003. It would also mark the Mount's first appearance in the title game since 2001.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Mount St. Mary's owns a 34-28 all-time advantage against Robert Morris after the teams split the regular season series this year. The Mount and RMU have battled three times in the NEC playoffs, most recently in 2006. The Colonials have won two of the three playoff matchups, in 1991 and 2006, while the Mount's lone win came in 1990.
In the regular season this year, RMU got the victory over the Mount in the NEC opener in Moon Township behind 17 points and eight boards from Irekpitan Ozzy-Momodu. The Mountaineers responded with a 61-55 win in Emmitsburg in the second matchup, as Jatarrikah Settle dropped a career-high 21 points to hand the Colonials their first conference loss of the season.
NEC QUARTERFINAL WIN
Five Mount St. Mary's players finished with double-figure points to propel the Mountaineers to an 80-74 victory at St. Francis Brooklyn on Monday night in the Northeast Conference (NEC) Quarterfinals. The victory was the first for Mount St. Mary's in the playoffs since the 2013-14 campaign.
Rookie Michaela Harrison finished with 23 points on 5-of-10 shooting, a 3-of-5 mark from long range, and a perfect 10-of-10 clip at the line to lead all scorers in the contest. The Cleveland, Ohio native came up huge in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of her 23 points in the period, with 10 of those coming from the charity stripe. Harrison provided the biggest moment of the night as she stripped Maria Palarino in the paint before she was able to go up for the potential game-tying shot with under 10 seconds left. Harrison secured the steal and was fouled by the Terriers. The rookie sank a pair of clutch foul shots with seven seconds remaining to push the Mount's lead to four and essentially ice the game.
Jatarrikah Settle also helped fuel the Mountaineers in the win, registering 13 points and 11 rebounds to collect her third double-double of the season and the fourth of her career. Settle also added four assists and four steals in the contest. Bridget Birkhead knocked down a trio of three-pointers and finished with 14 points, while Juliette Lawless and Alexis Wooden each went 5-of-6 from the field and posted 10 points apiece to round out the double-figure scorers for the Mount.
Mount St. Mary's senior guard Juliette Lawless was named to the All-Northeast Conference (NEC) Second Team, and freshman guard Michaela Harrison earned a spot on the NEC All-Rookie Team, as announced by the league office on Monday.
Lawless has proved to be one of the top all-around players in the league during her senior campaign, and she was rewarded with the second All-Conference honor of her career. The senior has posted a career-high 16.1 points per game on the season, which is good for fifth-most in the NEC. Lawless also ranks among the top-10 in the conference in field goal percentage (.487), three-point percentage (.378), assists per game (3.1), steals per game (1.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.7).
Harrison has contributed in a big way for the Mountaineers during her freshman campaign as she currently ranks 10th in the NEC in scoring and second among league rookies with 13.3 points per contest. Harrison has made the third-most three-pointers (81) in the league this season, trailing only NEC Player of the Year Jess Kovatch and All-NEC Second Team selection Jade Johnson.
INTO THE RECORD BOOK
Freshman guard Michaela Harrison knocked down her 80th three-pointer of the season in the fourth quarter on Monday, which set a new Mount St. Mary's single-season three-point record. Myriam Baccouche held the previous record with 79 threes made during the 2003-04 campaign. Harrison ranks third in the league with 81 threes on the season, trailing only NEC Player of the Year Jess Kovatch and All-NEC Second Team member Jade Johnson. Harrison has knocked down three or more triples in 17 contests this season.
MOUNT PLAYOFF HISTORY
The Mountaineers reached the conference playoffs for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. They are looking for their first NEC Tournament Championship since 1995 when they capped off a run of three straight crowns. They won the Tournament in 1993, 1994 and 1995 under Bill Sheahan, who is the winningest coach in program history with 372 victories at the Mount.
SCOUTING ROBERT MORRIS
The Colonials, who sit at 20-10 overall, finished the regular season with a 16-2 mark in conference play with their only two losses coming against the Mount and Sacred Heart. RMU is led by its junior center, Nneka Ezeigbo, who was named the NEC Defensive Player of the Year and earned an All-NEC First Team selection. Ezeigbo is averaging a team-high 12.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. The Colonials are the league's top defensive team, allowing just 54.5 points per contest to opponents.