Stonehill Bounces Back at Saint Michael’s, 59-51

Senior Mike Kernan led Stonehill past Saint Michael's with his 15th career double-double on Saturday. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

Kernan double-double lifts Skyhawks to 14th win over last 16 games

COLCHESTER, Vt. (February 12, 2011) – Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll and ranked third in the NCAA East Regional rankings, bounced back following a loss with a win for the fifth time this season to claim a 59-51 victory over Saint Michael's College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action at Ross Sports Center this afternoon.

Senior forward Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) led the way for Stonehill with his sixth double-double of the season (15th career) as he registered game-highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds to go with three steals. He made 8-of-15 shots from the field and converted 3-of-4 free-throw attempts on the day. Classmate Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) was the only other Skyhawk in double-figures with 14 points as he made 5-of-7 shots from the field and drained all four free-throw attempts to go with six rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) dished out seven assists.

Sophomore Travis Warech (Pine Brook, N.J./Montville) led Saint Michael's with 12 points and five rebounds off the bench. Senior Nate Birr (Burnsville, Minn./Saint Thomas Academy) added ten points, eight assists and four rebounds, while sophomore Derek Knutty (Rocklin, Calif./Whitney) chipped in eight points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in 15 minutes off the bench.

Stonehill shot 41.8-percent (23-for-55) for the contest, including 52% (13-25) in the second half to seal the win. The Skyhawks finished with a 39-34 rebounding advantage, posting a 13-5 edge in second chance points. Saint Michael's finished shooting 37% (20-54) from the field, including 3-for-23 (13%) from three-point range, hitting just 7-of-24 (7-24) shots in the first half – 1-for-13 (7.7%) from beyond the arc.

Senior Daniel Heppert added 14 points and six rebounds today. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Stonehill closed the game out with a 13-4 run over the final 5:43 to clinch the win and avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since the end of the 2008-09 season. Saint Michael's held a three-point lead (44-41) after a Knutty jumper with 7:53 to play. The Skyhawks regained the lead (46-44) with a three-point play from Markle with 6:14 left, but Knutty answered with an "and-one" at the other end to put the hosts back up a point (47-46).

Kernan scored six points in an 8-0 Stonehill run that resulted in a six point cushion (53-47) with 1:52 to go. The teams traded baskets for the next four possessions, with Saint Michael's still within four (55-51) after a Birr layup with 56-seconds remaining. Stonehill sealed it at the free-throw line from there, draining four-straight around a missed three-point attempt for the Purple Knights.

The game featured eight ties and 12 lead changes throughout. Stonehill scored seven of the first nine points in the opening five minutes of a low-scoring first half. Kernan had six of those opening seven points, but Saint Michael's rallied to take its first lead (8-7) with a jumper by freshman Michael Holton, Jr. (Portland, Ore./The Winchendon School) with 13:14 left in the half.

The lead see-sawed over the next six minutes before Stonehill opened a seven point lead (21-14) with a Kernan layup with 3:58 left before halftime. Sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) sparked the 8-0 Skyhawks run with a three-pointer. Stonehill settled for a four-point (23-19) halftime lead, but Saint Michael's quickly regained the advantage with a Warech three 2:19 into the second half.

Stonehill staked out another five point lead (31-26) as Heppert scored six of eight Skyhawk points during an 8-2 spurt, capped by a Kernan bucket with 14:25 to play. Saint Michael's outscored the visitors 16-8 over a six minute stretch to turn a five point deficit into the three point lead (44-41) after Knutty's jumper with 7:53 remaining.

Stonehill (19-5, 14-5 NE-10) is back in action on Wednesday when it visits Saint Anselm College, ranked second in the East Region, for a big NE-10 matchup at 7:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home next Saturday, February 19, to host Southern New Hampshire University on Senior Day at Merkert Gymnasium at 3:30 p.m. Saint Michael's (11-12, 9-10 NE-10) visits Southern New Hampshire on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.