Junior swingham Ivan Almeida scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the first half and finished with his third double-double of the season. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)
Almeida double-double leads Skyhawks to fifth-straight win
Junior swingman Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) led the way for Stonehill with his third double-double of the season (fourth career), finishing with game-highs of 22 points (16 first half) and 13 rebounds with four blocked shots as the Skyhawks improved to 9-0 this season when he leads the scoring. Almeida made 9-of-15 shots from the field (6-8 first half), including 1-for-3 from three-point range (1-1 first half).
Sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) led a Stonehill bench that outscored UMass Lowell 35-16 with 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, while converted 4-of-5 free-throws. Classmate Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa./Crestwood) added ten points, draining 2-of-3 three's and converting all four free-throws, and four assists. Junior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) contributed 11 points and seven boards (five offensive).
Sophomore Brian Hamor led a Skyhawks bench that scored 35 points for the day with 15 points. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)
Freshman Akeem Williams (Brockton, Mass./Brockton) led UMass Lowell with 18 points, while sophomore Matt Welch (Lowell, Mass./Lowell) was the only other River Hawk in double-figures with 11 points. No other UML players had more than five points and none had more than four rebounds on the day.
Stonehill finished shooting 51.9-percent (28-for-54) from the field, including 8-for-17 (47.1%) from three-point range, after connecting at 54.5% (12-22) in the opening half to take an 11-point (39-28) lead into halftime. The Skyhawks drained 6-of-11 (54.5%) three-pointers and converted 9-of-10 (90%) free-throw attempts in the second half to help pull away. Stonehill again dominated the glass, posting a 48-30 rebounding advantage. UMass Lowell was held to 32.8-percent (12-for-64) shooting, including 3-for-19 (15.8%) from beyond the arc, and was outscored 22-11 at the free-throw line.
The game was back and forth for the first five minutes of the game, but Stonehill used a 14-2 run to open a 13 point lead (23-10) after two free-throws by sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) with 10:44 left in the half. Almeida scored the first six points of the run to spark the Skyhawks. He also scored the last seven points of the half for Stonehill, including the final four points to push its lead from seven to 11 (39-28) at the break.
Stonehill stormed out of the lockerroom with the first eight points of the second half to open a 19 point (47-28) advantage after two free-throws from senior Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) three and a half minutes in. Heppert had four points in all during that stretch, which was sparked by an Almeida dunk. UMass Lowell closed back within 12 (47-35) with a Williams jumper, but the Skyhawks reeled off a 14-5 run to take a 21 point lead (61-40) with 10:26 remaining after five-straight points from Fazzini, including a run-capping three-pointer.
UMass Lowell never got closer than 19 the rest of the way as Stonehill ran its lead to 30 (78-48) with an Andre Tongo (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) three with 4:06 to play. The Skyhawks led by as much as 32 before settling in at the 30 point final margin.
Stonehill (18-4, 13-4 NE-10), winners of 13 of its last 14, is right back in action here at Merkert Gym on Tuesday when it hosts Merrimack College for an NE-10 battle at 7:30 p.m. UMass Lowell (14-7, 10-7 NE-10) hosts Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.