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Bona's opponent 'upset'
Robert Morris mad at falling into WNIT

Winning has a way of changing not just expectations, but perspective.

Take the Robert Morris women's basketball, for instance.

After dominating the Northeast Conference, winning the regular season title and going 23-7, the Colonials fell in the semifinals of their tournament to host, and eventual winner, St. Francis (Pa.)

In a conference that gets one bid to the NCAA tournament, the loss and the ensuing WNIT berth have been difficult to swallow.

"The question for us now is: Can we pick ourselves up after a devastating loss?" said Robert Morris coach Sal Buscalglia. "Can we pick ourselves up over the disappointment and put it in the past and know this is a position to be proud of as well? We've had so much time to digest the loss we had, I think it was difficult to handle."

But stepping back and looking at the big picture -- the Colonials' third postseason bid in the last four years along with some very talented players -- makes tonight's 7 p.m. WNIT first-round game against St. Bonaventure in the Reilly Center a potentially interesting matchup.

St. Bonaventure is enjoying its second-straight WNIT bid after advancing to the quarterfinals of the postseason tournament in 2009.

The 22-9 Bonnies posted their second straight 20-win season. Bona finished in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Atlantic 10 and ended up drawing the No. 7 seed before falling to Dayton in the conference semifinals.

"This year we did things a bit differently," Bona coach Jim Crowley said. "We gave the kids more time off [after the Atlantic 10 tournament] and got a couple of good practices in last week. We're playing in March and not many teams get a chance to do that. We have kids here who didn't have that chance a couple of years ago and they know how special this is. I don't care what the name of the tournament is, if you're playing this time of year it's special and the kids understand that. They really like playing together and they want to keep playing together for as long as they can."

The Colonials are led by senior guard Angela Pace, the NEC Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Pace is averaging 15.3 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. Robert Morris has balanced scoring and has won 13 of its last 14 games.

"[Pace] is a guard who can make an impact in our league," Crowley said. "Robert Morris is very good at the zone, which gives us trouble. They shoot the three very well and you don't win 23 games in any league unless you play and defend well."

The Bonnies continue to be led by senior Dana Mitchell, averaging 16.3 points and 4.6 rebounds. Sophomore Megan Van Tatenhove adds 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds a game. Bona plays particularly well in the Reilly Center, going 11-3 at home this season.

It was generally a good selection Monday for the Atlantic 10 as eight teams earned postseason bids. Xavier, Dayton and Temple made the NCAA field while four other teams join Bona in the WNIT field -- Duquesne, Charlotte, Saint Joseph's and Richmond.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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