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SFU's Run Ends in NEC Title Game

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (March 16, 2014)  The Saint Francis University women's basketball team played an even second half, but fell to No. 1 Robert Morris, 78-64, in the Northeast Conference Championship, which was televised on ESPNU on Sunday afternoon.

The Red Flash (15-17) took the first lead of the game and led by seven just five minutes into the contest. The Colonials (21-11) battled back on a 7-0 run and took its first lead of the game with 7:59 to go in the opening half, they did not trail again. 

"We didn't play our best basketball today, and it is disappointing for that to happen in the [Northeast Conference] Championship game," SFU head coach Joe Haigh said.

Robert Morris extended its lead to 13 in the first half as it took a 31-18 halftime lead. During the break, it was discovered that RMU's Anna Niki Stamolamprou actually hit a three-pointer instead of a two, so the Colonials then were up, 32-18, as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

In the second half, Saint Francis continued to try to chip away at the Colonials lead, but it never got it closer than seven points.

With 8:53 to play, SFU was within seven for the first time in the period until Artemis Spanou drained a three-pointer for RMU. Spanou finished with a game-high 30 points and 20 rebounds and was named MVP of the NEC Tournament.

Saint Francis battled to within seven again, this time with less than two minutes to play after a lay-up from Alli Williams (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle). Robert Morris then pulled away for the final time after a quick lay-in off a side inbounds play from Kelly Hartwell and it hit some free throws down the stretch.

"We will continue to get better in the off season, we will miss Alli [Williams] dearly next year, but we will play to come back next year and win it all," Haigh continued.

Alli Williams (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead all Red Flash players. She finishes her Saint Francis career second on the all-time charts in scoring (2,170) and steals (349) and third in rebounds (1,157).

Alexa Hayward (Beaver Falls, Pa./Blackhawk) added 13 points with five assists. Both Hayward and Williams were named to the NEC All-Tournament Team; SFU was the only team to have two players on the five player All-NEC squad.

Robert Morris led the rebounding battle, 47-33. The Colonials finished the game shooting 51% (27-53) compared to SFU's 31% (19-62).

The 16th NEC Title game appearance for Saint Francis in the past 21 seasons is a mark that ranks second in the country, only trailing UConn (20) for most conference championship game appearances.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times