Stonehill Rallies Past Southern Connecticut, 71-56

Senior Daniel Heppert posted a double-double for the second-straight game with 16 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to go with a career-best six blocked shots tonight. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

Heppert leads on both ends with second-straight double-double

EASTON, Mass. (January 5, 2010) – Stonehill College rallied from a nine point deficit early in the second half to pick up its fifth-straight win with a 71-56 decision over Southern Connecticut State University in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Senior guard Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) led Stonehill on both ends of the floor by notching his second-straight double-double (third career) by totaling 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, including 4-for-8 from three-point range, and converting both free-throw attempts to go with a career-best 15 rebounds and career-high six blocked shots. Junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) led the Skyhawks with 17 points, aided by 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc, four rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) added 16 points off the bench, draining all nine free-throw attempts, and four assists, while senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) contributed 13 points, six boards, three assists and three steals.

Sophomore Trevon Hamlet (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bishop Laughlin) led Southern Connecticut with a game-high 21 points to go with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Senior Chazz McCarter (New Haven, Conn./Platt Tech) added 16 points, five rebounds (four offensive) and four steals, while classmate Dexton Williamson (Bridgeport, Conn./Bassick) pulled down a team-high nine boards.

Stonehill finished shooting 41.5-percent (22-for-53) from the field, including 10-for-25 from three-point range, after hitting at a 50% (12-24) clip in the second half, including 6-for-12 (50%) from deep. The Skyhawks posted a 41-36 rebounding advantage and converted 17-of-24 (70.8%) free-throw attempts, with its bench outscoring Southern 19-0. The Owls finished shooting 31% (18-58) from the floor, but just 8-for-27 (29.6%) in the second half, and 4-for-17 (23.5%) from three-point range on the night. SCSU outscored the Skyhawks 20-12 in points off turnovers and converted 16-of-19 (84.2%) free-throw attempts.

Junior Ivan Almeida scored a game-high 17 points tonight. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Stonehill used a 19-4 run late in the second half to take control for good. Southern led by two (44-42) after a Hamlet jumper with 10:19 to play. The Skyhawks then took control with its run, opening a 13-point lead (61-48) after a pair of Hamor free-throws with 2:28 remaining. Heppert sparked the deciding stretch with a three-pointer to put Stonehill in front for good, with Hamor and Almeida also connecting from deep in that span. Almeida scored eight of his team-best 17 points during the run.

Southern drew within 11 (61-50) after two free-throws from Ramsey, but Stonehill made eight of ten free-throws over the final 1:27 to seal the victory, pushing its lead to as much as 17 in the closing seconds.

Stonehill looked poised to run away early, scoring the first 12 points of the game, keyed by seven points from Kernan, four minutes in. But Southern responded with a 20-3 run over the next five minutes to take a five point lead of its own (20-15) after three free-throws from McCarter with 11:10 to go before halftime. Hamlet scored 13 points for the Owls during that stretch.

Southern Connecticut carried a six point lead (32-26) into halftime thanks to a three by junior Chris Harris (Brooklyn, N.Y./Boys and Girls) with five seconds left and McCarter opened the second half with a three to push the Owls lead to a game-high nine (35-26). Stonehill started chipping away, drawing within two (35-33) after a Hamor layup with 14:42 to play. SCSU regained a six point lead (39-33) on two Hamlet free-throws, but the Skyhawks scored six-straight to draw even (39-39) on a three-point play by Kernan with 11:49 to go.

Hamlet's jumper with 10:19 to go gave Southern its final lead of the night (44-42) before Stonehill posted its clinching run.

Stonehill (10-3, 5-3 NE-10) is back in action on Saturday when it visits Pace University for an NE-10 matchup at 3:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home next Tuesday to host Assumption College at 7:30 p.m. Southern Connecticut State (8-4, 5-4 NE-10) hosts 22nd-ranked Bentley University at 3:30 p.m.