Senior Mike Kernan helped lead the way with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)
Skyhawks hold Purple Knights scoreless final 2:31 of OT to clinch win
Junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) led three Stonehill players in double-figures with 17 points (11 first half) on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, including 1-for-3 from three-point range, to go with five rebounds and four blocked shots. Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) added 14 points, a team-high nine rebounds and three blocked shots, while classmate Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) contributed 12 points, three boards and two assists. Junior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) also chipped in with a team-best nine rebounds.
Freshman Michael Holton, Jr., (Portland, Ore./Sunset) led Saint Michael's with a game-high 27 points (23 after halftime) on 19-of-19 shooting from the field, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, while converting 4-of-6 free-throws, to go with seven rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Derek Knutty (Rocklin, Conn./Whitney) posted a double-double of ten points and ten rebounds with two blocks, while senior Nate Birr (Burnsville, Minn./Saint Thomas Academy) chipped in with nine points and three assists.
Junior Ivan Almeida led the Skyhawks with 17 points to go with five rebounds and four blocks. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)
Stonehill finished shooting 40.4-percent (21-for-52) from the field, including 46.4% (13-28) after halftime. The Skyhawks committed just eight turnovers on the afternoon and finished with a 23-9 advantage in points off turnovers while also outscoring Saint Michael's 18-11 at the free-throw line. The Purple Knights shot 38.9-percent (21-for-54) for the afternoon, including 46.4% (13-for-28) in the second half to erase a seven point (22-15) halftime deficit and force overtime.
Saint Michael's erased a seven point deficit (45-38) with 6:24 to play to force overtime and then scored the first four points of the overtime to gain the early advantage (55-51) after two free-throws from Birr. Holton, Jr., scored the first basket of the extra frame, but the Purple Knights didn't register another field goal over the final 4:03. Almeida hit two big jumpers to close Stonehill within one (56-55) with 1:39 to play and then sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) drained two free-throws with 55-seconds left to push the Skyhawks back in front.
Saint Michael's turned the ball over on its next two possessions, while sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) made one of two free-throws and Heppert drained two at the line to put the Skyhawks up four with 13-seconds left. Knutty missed a three at the other end and Kernan pulled down the rebound and hit one of two free-throws at the other end to wrap up the scoring and seal the victory.
Stonehill led by as much as 11 points on two occasions in the opening nine minutes of the second half, but Saint Michael's slowly started chipping away. The Skyhawks led by five (49-44) after a Hamor layup with 3:52 left in regulation, when Saint Michael's made its final push with a Holton, Jr., three and Knutty layup to draw even (49-49) with 2:36 remaining. Hamor put the Skyhawks back in front with 1:58 to play and then Knutty answered with a jumper at the other end with 1:23 to go. Heppert missed two free-throws with 1:03 left and Holton, Jr., came up empty on jumper with 25-seconds to go. Stonehill had possession after a timeout, but Hamor missed a baseline jumper with 11-seconds to go and an off-balanced attempt by sophomore Travis Warech (Pine Brook, N.J./Montville) was off the mark at the buzzer to force overtime.
Stonehill (4-1, 2-1 NE-10) returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts Saint Anselm College, also receiving votes nationally, at Merkert Gym at 7:30 p.m. Saint Michael's (2-4, 0-3 NE-10) hosts Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.