UMU
LaMattina

ALLIANCE, Ohio -- Rosa LaMattina scored 16 points, including five in an eight-second stretch, to lead the No. 6 Mount Union to a 73-63 victory against La Roche (Pa.) in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Friday night.

The Purple Raiders (27-1) saw a double-digit lead in the second half trimmed to 65-62 with just over two minutes remaining. LaMattina answered by scoring on a driving layup with 2:09 to go, then stole the inbounds pass and hit a 12-foot jump shot to put Mount Union comfortably ahead 69-62 with 2:01 left.

"She's unbelievable," Mount Union coach Suzy Venet said of LaMattina, who also had seven assists. "She has an incredible will to win."

La Roche (22-6) fell behind 13-2 at the start of the game, but rallied to lead by as many as five points at 23-18 before the Purple Raiders closed the first half with a 12-2 run to lead 30-25 at the intermission.

Mount Union led several times by 10 or more points in the second period, but the Redhawks always had an answer. They did so behind Ariel Green and Jessica Pitts, who scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, and a full-court defense that forced the Purple Raiders into 15 turnovers for the game.

"They're a quick team, we knew that," Venet said. "It was going to come down to who took care of the ball."

Despite the pressure, Mount Union shot 55.6 percent from the field in the second half (15 of 27).

"Survive and move on," Venet said. "That's the name of the game. We came out in the second half with a little momentum and were ready to go. We executed much better offensively."

Kori Wiedt led the Purple Raiders with 20 points, including a jumper that beat the first-half buzzer to give Mount Union the halftime momentum.

Tierney Allen added 12 points, while Amanda Rose finished with nine points and eight rebounds for the Purple Raiders.