Robert Morris women's basketball team tops Fairleigh Dickinson, 68-59, in Northeast Conference quarterfinals
March 6, 2016 10:12 PM
Robert Morris' Jocelynne Jones pulls down a rebound against Fairleigh Dickinson's Kelsey Cruz in the first half Sunday of the quarterfinals of the Northeast Conference quarterfinals at the Sewell Center.
Robert Morris' Mikalah Mulrain and Fairleigh Dickinson's Natalie Zamora go for a loose ball in the first half.
Robert Morris' Jocelynne Jones gets a shot up against Fairleigh Dickinson's Brianna Thomas in the first half.
By Megan Ryan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Robert Morris women’s coach Sal Buscaglia will still be on the bench for at least one more game. But Buscaglia, who announced at the end of the 2014-15 season that this would be his final season as head coach, is insistent this postseason run isn’t about his last hurrah.
The No. 3-seeded Colonials defeated No. 6 Fairleigh Dickinson, 68-59, Sunday at Sewall Center in the Northeast Conference tournament quarterfinals. The Colonials advance to the semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday against No. 2 Bryant in Smithfield, R.I.
“The focus is on them not me,” Buscaglia said. “The focus is on our next game, not about the end. It’s just about our journey, and we’re still on our journey.”
Fairleigh Dickinson swept the Colonials in the regular season, and a third loss looked likely early in the first quarter when the Knights built a 14-5 lead off a 10-0 run. But Buscaglia called a timeout with 3:55 left in the first to spur the Colonials to a 13-2 run that forged the lead by midway through the second quarter.
And the team stayed in front the rest of the way.
“I just said, ‘Ladies, really early in the game, we’ve got to defend better,’ ” Buscaglia said. “I really felt that we needed just to play harder on defense, shoot the gaps, go for steals, just be a little bit more aggressive.”
Knights coach Peter Cinella said the main differences between the regular-season wins and the postseason loss were free throws and 3-pointers. Robert Morris made six more free throws and five more 3-pointers and had double the chances at both compared to Fairleigh Dickinson.
“Robert Morris, I feel like they can win the league,” Cinella said. “They’re very talented. It’s hard to beat a very talented team three times, and that was the task.”
Fairleigh Dickinson also had to combat the postseason performance of Robert Morris junior guard Anna Niki Stamolamprou. She made the all-tournament team as a freshman and sophomore and proved again this year she’s a clutch player when the season’s on the line, despite making the conference’s second team instead of the first team like a year ago.
She scored a game-high and season-high 24 points, converting 5 of 11 from the field, 4 of 8 from 3-point range and 10 of 12 from the free-throw line. She also contributed 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.
“You just have to give it all,” Stamolamprou said. “I mean, there’s no coming back. You win, you compete. You lose, you go home. And for sure I don’t want to go home.”
Megan Ryan: email@example.com and Twitter @theothermegryan.
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