Improbable game-winner puts Robert Morris in NCAAs Print
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Wednesday, 11 March 2009 21:55
NCAAB Headline News


 CORAOPOLIS, Pa. (AP) -Robert Morris is in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 17 years because of a game-winning play no one could have scripted, least of all coach Mike Rice.
Now, the Colonials must do some more improvisation - namely, how to react when they see their school name flashed on the screen Sunday night, alongside North Carolina, Memphis or some other power that's supposed to beat them in the NCAA tournament by 30 points or so.
A reason to celebrate? Be sure of it.
``It's going to be crazy,'' Jimmy Langhurst said. ``We'll be waiting to see our name come up, and everybody's going to be jumping around, acting like clowns.''
Much like they did after the least-likely player on the floor, Dallas Green, picked up a loose ball with 2.5 seconds remaining and scored his only basket in the Colonials' 48-46 victory over Mount St. Mary's in the Northeast Conference championship game Wednesday night.
t-8 inside player who averages 6.9 points. ``I knew the whole game I hadn't scored, but I've been helping the team out the whole season.''
Once he put up his decisive 8-footer near the baseline, Green said, somewhat whimsically, ``I thought it was good. I'm from Indiana, so I have that touch.''
Conference player of the year Jeremy Chappell sealed the victory by batting away Mount St. Mary's inbounds pass, allowing the Colonials (24-10) to celebrate like a champion should. Rice invented a locker-room victory dance and, if only for one night, Robert Morris was one of the big boys.
The Colonials overcame a five-point deficit with slightly more than four minutes remaining and some terrible shooting - they were 18-of-53 (34 percent) and 4-of-14 from 3-point range - in a ragged game for its fifth Northeast Conference title but its first since 1992.
Mount St. Mary's (19-13) was in position to reach the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row, only to be beaten on a shot by a player Rice conceded would have been his fifth and last option.
Even if, Rice said, ``In practice, he makes goofy shots all the time.''
The previous two seasons, the Mountaineers were swept by Robert Morris during the season - just as they were this season - only to beat the Colonials on their home court in the tournament.
ots (39.1 percent) and were 1-of-12 on 3-pointers.
``Part of March is making shots, and it was the first shot he (Green) made one the whole game,'' said Kelly Beidler, who scored 12 points for the Mountaineers. ``Unfortunately, it was at the end of the game.''
And, for Mount St. Mary's, probably the end of the season, too.
Robert Morris has at least one more to play, even if it's a game that hasn't been very kind to the Northeast. Since its first NCAA appearance in 1982, the conference hasn't won anything other than a play-in game or one held to determine the last-seeded team in a region.
The Colonials don't care. They're part of the tournament and, for now, nothing else matters.
``It's going to be great,'' said Chappell, who had 15 points and six rebounds. ``We can't wait.''
Tournament championship
Big Sky
Portland State 79, Montana State 77
At Ogden, Utah, Julius Thomas broke free for a tie-breaking dunk with 3.5 seconds left and Portland State repeated as conference champions to earn a second straight NCAA berth.
The Bobcats rallied from 10 points down to tie it at 77 with 11 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Branden Johnson.
Thomas scored off a pass from Andre Murray to put Portland State (23-9) ahead again, then Murray snuffed Montana State's hopes by not allowing Bobby Howard to get off a shot at the buzzer.
d 10 rebounds to lead the Bobcats (14-17), who were the No. 6 seed in a six-team tournament.
Top 25
No. 18 Syracuse 89, Seton Hall 74
At New York, Eric Devendorf scored all 19 of his points in a technical-filled second half and No. 18 Syracuse pulled away in the second round of the Big East tournament.
Jonny Flynn had 19 points and 11 assists for the sixth-seeded Orange (24-8), who will face third-seeded and third-ranked Connecticut in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.
Jeremy Hazell had 27 points for the 11th-seeded Pirates (17-15), who were looking to win two games in the Big East tournament for the first time since 2001.
No. 21 Marquette 74, St. John's 45
At New York, Wesley Matthews scored 20 points and No. 21 Marquette snapped a four-game losing streak by holding St. John's to a Big East tournament-record 10 points in the first half.
Lazar Hayward added 17 points for the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles (24-8), who advanced to Thursday's quarterfinals against fourth-seeded and 10th-ranked Villanova.
It was the first Marquette win since the loss of starting point guard Dominic James to a broken left foot. The Golden Eagles needed him in the four losses - all to ranked teams - but didn't need him in their ninth straight win over the Red Storm, a streak that dates to 1966.
Paris Horne had 15 points for St. John's (16-17).
 

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