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Mount women romp to NEC title, 80-61


EMMITSBURG -- Tiny Emmitsburg is now the Titletown of Northeast Conference basketball.

The Mount St. Mary's women last night completed the sweep of the NEC championships, routing St. Francis (Pa.), 80-61, to join the school's men in the NCAA Division I tournaments.

Their 18th straight victory completed a three-peat in the league tournament for the Mountaineers women, who have never lost to St. Francis in nine meetings at Knott Arena.

And, for the first time, the same school has won both NEC basketball crowns.

The issue was never really in doubt after Mount St. Mary's (24-5) broke away from a 9-9 tie with a 24-7 run featuring two three-pointers each by senior Shari DeLaney and Melissa Cuneo (Keough) that pulled St. Francis out of a zone defense.

The Red Flash valiantly but vainly fought uphill the rest of the night, trying to overcome the Mount's 61 percent shooting in the first half.

But the Mount's superior depth (a 24-4 scoring edge by the bench) and St. Francis' inability to launch a sustained run took their toll and gave the Mountaineers their second straight NCAA tournament appearance.

"I told the four people who came in in 1991 [including Heather Wable, who was red-shirted] that they've been a vital part of our program," said Mount coach Bill Sheahan.

"In these four years, they've won four regular-season titles, three NEC tournaments and twice gone to the NCAAs while averaging 24 wins and about four or five losses. I don't know of anybody who can say they had that kind of achievement anywhere in college basketball."

Using its superior height that produced 22 offensive rebounds, St. Francis refused to wilt and made a mini-run that chopped the Mount lead to 57-47 with 12:44 left to play.

But Wable hit a trey, then scored two straight two-point baskets, restoring the edge to 15 points and St. Francis never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.

"Melissa kicked it out and I didn't even think about shooting that three. That's probably why I made it," said Wable, who made the all-tournament team.

St. Francis is the only team to beat the Mountaineers in their last 47 NEC games, winning 64-62 at Loretto, Pa., on Jan. 11.

But the second-seeded Red Flash lacked the bench and shooting accuracy to make a repeat a viable possibility.

"They did what they had to do to take care of our runs," said St. Francis coach Jenny Przekwas. "To me, depth is definitely a factor when we play them, but that speaks to the level of their program year in and year out."

Wable led the Mount with 18 points. Six other players contributed at least seven points and nine played at least 12 minutes.

Susie Rowlyk, co-NEC Player of the Year, wasn't at her best during the three-day event, but made the all-tournament team with Wable.

The most valuable player award went to Mount sophomore Nikki Schroyer, who amassed 12 points and six rebounds last night after getting 28 points and 16 rebounds in the first two tournament games.

"She's 5-8 and is always going against a 6-footer," Sheahan said of Schroyer. "This year she had to play forward, but I promised her that next year she'll go to the backcourt."

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