Moon Township, Pa. -Mount St. Mary's coach Milan Brown thought his team had made a defensive stop.
What happened instead was a surprising basket that ended his team's season.
Robert Morris' Dallas Green picked up a loose ball with 2.5 seconds left and made a rushed shot for his only field goal, and the top-seeded Colonials beat Mount St. Mary's, 48-46, in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game last night at the Sewall Center.
Kelly Beidler led second-seeded Mount (19-13) with 12 points and nine rebounds. Shawn Atupem had 11 points off the bench.
Mount St. Mary's, on the cusp of becoming the first team since Rider (1993-94) to win consecutive conference tournaments, along with earning back-to-back automatic bids to the NCAA tournament, lost for the first time in four title-game appearances.
NEC Player of the Year Jeremy Chappell had 15 points, six rebounds and three steals to lead Robert Morris (24-10), which rallied from a five-point deficit in the final 5:18. The Colonials will make their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1992.
With the score tied at 46, Shawn Atupem missed a shot with 33 seconds remaining, giving Robert Morris possession.
The Colonials set up their final play for Chappell, who scored 13 of his points in the second half. The senior guard lost control of the ball while driving to the basket.
That set the stage for Green, who hit the short baseline jumper. He finished with three points on 1-for-2 shooting.
"Sometimes you have a play where you say to yourself, 'It wasn't meant to be,' " Brown said. "We thought we had a stop at the end. He made a heads-up play to shoot the floater and made it."
Green, who came in averaging 6.9 points, said he didn't hesitate about taking the shot.
"There were three, four seconds left, so I just shot it," he said. "I knew all game that I hadn't scored. I figured whatever would happen, would happen."
Mount St. Mary's guard Jeremy Goode, who had a team-high six assists, said it was an unexpected ending to the game.
"[Chappell] had made shots for them all year, so I knew the ball would be in his hands," he said. "No one thought [Green] would shoot the ball at the time of the game. But the ball wound up rolling into his hands, and he made a tough shot."
The Mountaineers led 42-37 with 5:18 left after two free throws from Sam Atupem.
A three-pointer from Robert Morris' Jimmy Langhurst made it 42-40 before Mount St. Mary's went back ahead by four points on a basket from Goode.
The Colonials then scored six consecutive points, capped by another three-pointer from Langhurst, to go ahead 46-44 with 1:43 left.
Shawn Atupem made two free throws to tie the score at 46 with 1:17 left.
Mount St. Mary's and Robert Morris met in the NEC tournament for the fourth consecutive season. The Mount had won the previous two postseason meetings, including a 83-65 upset of top-seeded Robert Morris in last season's semifinals.
Last night's game was close throughout. Neither team led by more than six points, and there were 12 ties and 10 lead changes.
"We knew it would be that way in the championship," Beidler said. "We knew going into the game that it would be a fight. It wouldn't be a blowout."
Robert Morris beat Mount St. Mary's for the third time this season.