Fueled by sophomore Rebecca Navarro’s season and career high 23 points, the Robert Morris Colonials (16-14) defeated the Farleigh Dickenson Knights (10-20), 89-61, in the quarterfinals of the Northeast Conference Tournament Sunday afternoon at the Charles L. Sewell Center.
The point total marks a new season high for the Colonials and the victory pushes RMU to 15-1 in home playoff games.
Both teams came out firing, scoring within the first minute. The rapid pace of both play and scoring would be the theme of the first half, as the teams combined for 78 points on 31 field goals that took just 54 shots to accumulate.
Leading the outbreak in production were FDU’s Amanda Andraes’ 15 points and Navarro’s 11. The Colonials took an edge into the end of a half that featured 11 lead changes and 2 ties by a two point margin, 40-38.
“Thought we played a great first half as Robert Morris did. Both teams were incredibly offensively efficient. Then in the second half Robert Morris continued to knock down shot after shot and they took away some of the things we were doing to get good shots then we missed some easy shots,” said Farleigh Dickenson head coach Peter Cinella.
“Our kids matched everything in the first half….we really came out with the energy and sense of urgency that we’ve been trying to teach this young team throughout the year, something we haven’t had constantly throughout the year,” said Robert Morris head coach Sal Buscaglia.
Coming out of the break, the Knights jumped on the Colonials with full court pressure, but were only able to garner a 46-44 advantage early on. From there on out, it was all RMU. A corresponding 15-4 run put the Colonials up for good, as bench players took turns stepping up and hitting big shots. As has happened numerous times throughout the season, all 11 players on the Colonials’ roster contributed points in the victory.
“The other thing is, we try and do what we can to stop Anna Nikki and Megan Smith, and they both played well……but their bench was just, you got players playing six minutes and going two for two. Usually you see one or two players do that off the bench. They had like seven players do that off the bench,” said Cinella.
Navarro lead all scorers with 23 points, none of which came from behind the arch, the usual sweet spot for the sharp shooter. “I’m a shooter, so 23 points without any three point shots was kinda weird,” said Navarro. “When all the teams know you are a shooter, they press you more. If they have a hand in your face, you have to drive.”
Sophomore and First Team All-NEC selection Anna Nikki Stamalamprou chipped in with a near triple double, posting 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists, while freshman and NEC All-Rookie Team Megan Smith also reached double figures with 11 points.
For the Knights, redshirt-junior and Defensive Player of the Year Erika Livermore scored 19 points on an efficient 8-13 shooting, while junior and Second Team All-NEC selection Kelsey Cruz added 18 and senior Tiffany Grant 11 to reach double digits.
The Colonials will now turn their attention to the NEC Semifinals where they will travel to Rhode Island for a matchup with the Bryant Bulldogs (22-8) for a chance to advance to the title game on Sunday, March 15.