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Men’s Basketball Defeats Robert Morris 75-64, Will Host LIU Brooklyn In NEC Title Game On Tuesday At 7:00 PM

(Cooper, Wagner)

Staten Island, NY – Senior guard JoJo Cooper (Concord) tallied 20 points, including the 1,000th of his career, while redshirt junior guard Romone Saunders and sophomore guard Blake Francis added 18 and 15 points, respectively, to lead the top-seeded Wagner men's basketball team to a 75-64 Northeast Conference (NEC) semifinal win over seventh-seeded Robert Morris on Saturday afternoon at the Spiro Sports Center.

With the victory, the Seahawks move on to the NEC championship game on Tuesday, March 6 at 7:00 p.m. where they will host fourth-seeded LIU Brooklyn, with an automatic NCAA Tournament bid on the line, and a national television audience looking in on ESPN 2.

Wagner, which improves its home record to 16-0 following today's win, will enter Tuesday's title game with a 23-8 record while LIU Brooklyn, which defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 78-77 in today's other semifinal, will bring in a mark of 18-16.

The championship tilt will be a rubber match between the Seahawks and Blackbirds as the teams split their two meetings this season, each holding serves on their respective home courts.

When Wagner and LIU meet on Tuesday, it will mark just the second time in history that two New York City teams will square off in an NEC title game. The first time was back in 2003 when Wagner beat St. Francis Brooklyn for the NEC championship.

In the two previous games between Wagner and LIU the difference of scoring margin a combined six points as on January 13, LIU earned a last-second 69-67 victory in Brooklyn while the Seahawks gutted out a 78-74 home win on February 17.

Handling the call courtside on ESPN 2 will be Rece Davis on play-by-play, while former Indiana and Marquette head coach, Tom Crean, will provide color analysis.

Wagner was in control of today's semifinal win over RMU virtually throughout. After falling behind by an early 10-8 count, the Seahawks went on a 10-2 run, capped by a Cooper three-pointer with 11:10 left in the half to go in front by a 20-10 count.

After maintaining their 10-point edge at the half, 39-29, RMU outscored Wagner 5-4 to open the second half to make it a 43-34 game. This would be the last time that the Colonials were within single digits as junior guard Devin Liggeons, who delivered a productive nine-point, eight-rebound effort, answered with a layup to give Wagner a 45-34 lead.

The Seahawks were able to maintain their double-digit advantage the rest of the way, building their largest lead of the game with 4:39 left when a fast-break layup by Francis opened an 18-point margin, at 65-47, with 4:39 remaining.

RMU, which concluded its season with a mark of 16-17, was led by Dachon Burke's 18 points while Charles Bain added 17, but it was not enough as Wagner ends up with a sweep of the three games played between the teams this season.

The Seahawks, who also received an important nine-point, eight rebound effort from redshirt junior forward AJ Sumbry, outshot RMU 50.9 percent to 39.3 percent while holding a healthy advantages in rebounds (36-26), points in the paint (38-18) and points off turnovers (22-13).

NOTE: Cooper entered the NEC Tournament with 960 career points. The 6-0 Delaware native hit for 20 in last Wednesday's 73-61 quarterfinal win over eighth-seeded Central Connecticut, which moved him to 980, and with today's 20-point performance giving him 1,000 career points on the dot. For his career, the versatile playmaker also has 508 assists (No. 6 all-time), 481 rebounds and 143 steals.


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