Stonehill Holds Off Franklin Pierce, 68-62

Senior Daniel Heppert scored 12 of his career-high matching 17 points in the second half for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr) 

Heppert leads Skyhawks to victory in NE-10 opener with 17 points

EASTON, Mass. (November 17, 2010) – Stonehill College opened defense of its Northeast-10 Conference regular season title with a 68-62 victory over Franklin Pierce University in NE-10 men's basketball action at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Senior Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) led Stonehill with a game and career-high matching 17 points, aided by 6-for-8 shooting at the free-throw line, to go with seven rebounds and two assists. Junior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville, Manlius) contributed his second-straight double-double (third career) with 13 points and a career-high 11 rebounds (four offensive) and two blocked shots, shooting 5-for-7 from the field to go with a 3-for-4 effort at the free-throw line. Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) pulled down a game and season-high matching 12 rebounds to go with eight points and career-high matching four blocked shots, while junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) chipped in nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the balanced offensive effort.

Junior Patrick Lee notched his second-straight double-double with 13 points and a career-best 11 rebounds tonight. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Sophomore Eric Jean-Guillaume (Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic) led Franklin Pierce with 16 points, four rebounds and four steals. Freshman Andre Blackwood (Paterson, N.J./Paterson Catholic) added 12 points, two assists and two steals off the bench, while classmate Ellis Cooper (Northampton, Mass./Northampton) chipped in with ten points, three rebounds and seven steals.

Stonehill overcame a staggering 33 turnovers by shooting 49.1-percent (26-for-53) from the field, including 69.6% (16-23) in the first half, and out-rebounding Franklin Pierce by a 50-32 margin. The Ravens scored 31 of their 62 points off the Stonehill turnovers, but was held to 29.7-percent (22-for-74) shooting from the field, including 10-for-38 (26.3%) in the first half, and only 7-for-31 (22.6%) from three-point range, including 15.8% (3-19) in the second half. The Skyhawks converted 13-of-18 (72.2%) free-throw attempts.

Stonehill never trailed on the night and led by a game-high 16 points (57-41) after a tip-in by Lee with 7:24 to play. Franklin Pierce wouldn't go away quietly, using a 15-2 run over a four-minute span to trim a 15-point (60-45) deficit with 5:08 remaining to two points (64-62) after a steal and layup by senior Kinard Dozier (Dedham, Mass./The Winchendon School) with 51-seconds to go.

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Heppert answered with a jumper at the other end, but Jean-Guillaume followed with a layup to close back within a possession (64-62) with 26-seconds left. After a timeout, Stonehill broke Franklin Pierce's full-court pressure and Heppert was fouled and drained both free-throws to push the Skyhawks lead back to four (66-62). Franklin Pierce turned the ball over on its next possession and the Skyhawks went on to do just enough at the line down the stretch and the Ravens misfired on their last two shots.

Stonehill scored the first eight points of the night and ran its lead to double-figures for the first time (21-11) after a Kernan layup with 10:55 left in the half. The Skyhawks lead grew to 13 (29-16) after a layup by sophomore Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa./Crestwood) with 6:30 to go, on its way to 15 (37-22) after another Fazzini bucket 1:41 before the break.

Stonehill settled for a 12-point (39-27) halftime lead, which quickly grew back to 14 after Lee opened the second half with a basket. Franklin Pierce closed within five points (41-36) with a 9-0 run, capped by a three-point play from Jean-Guillaume 3:37 in. The Skyhawks answered with a 14-3 run over the next ten minutes to seemingly take control (55-39) after two Heppert free-throws with 8:17 left.

Stonehill (3-0, 1-0 NE-10) is off for the next week before hitting the road to face No. 22-ranked Merrimack College on Tuesday, November 23, at 7:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home on Sunday, November 28, to host Saint Michael's College at 3:30 p.m. Franklin Pierce (1-1, 0-1 NE-10) is back in action on Friday when it faces Saint Leo University at the Molloy Tournament on Long Island at 6 p.m.