Long Island captures first NCAA bid
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Angelika Stec scored a career-high 21 points and Long Island University earned its first bid to the NCAA women's tournament by defeating top-seeded Mount St. Mary's 70-61 to win the NEC tournament championship Monday night.
Tournament MVP Tamika Dudley and Jessica Brookes added 14 points apiece and Kim Mac Millan had 13 as the third-seeded Blackbirds (16-14) continued a remarkable first season under coach Tony Bozzella.
Bozzella took over a program that posted a 47-117 record of the past six seasons, including a 2-24 record just two seasons ago.
Kia Williams, the conference player of the year, led Mount St. Mary's with 20 points. Deanna Butters had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Mountaineers, who shot 34 percent from the field.
Mount St. Mary's (15-14) was looking for its first NCAA tournament berth since going in both 1994 and 1995, the first two years the NEC had an automatic berth.
LIU, which rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to beat second-seeded Quinnipiac in overtime in the semifinals Sunday, never trailed after Stec hit a layup with 2:29 left in the first half for a 33-32 lead.
Dudley, a sophomore like Mac Millan, hit another layup with 63 seconds left in the half to give LIU a three-point lead.
Stec, a native of Poland who transferred from nearby Mercer County Community College, hit two more baskets in a 6-1 run that gave the Blackbirds a 41-33 lead in the opening minutes of the second half.
Williams scored six straight points to get Mount St. Mary's within 41-39 with 14:03 to play.
With the score 43-41, Brooks scored on a layup and Stec converted a three-point play to put LIU ahead 48-41.
Mount St. Mary got within three points twice after that. Brookes, a freshman center, hit a 3-pointer and Dudley then scored inside the second to protect the Blackbirds lead.
Mount St. Mary, which split games with LIU in the regular season, led 19-12 before LIU got back in the game with a 9-0 run that featured a three-point play by Dudley.
Dudley scored 25 and 31 points in the opening two games of the tournament.
St. Francis, Pa., the five-time defending champion in the NEC, did not make the postseason tournament.