Senior Mike Kernan posted 15 points, becoming the 35th 1,000-point scorer in program history. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)
Skyhawks set up showdown with rival Bentley for share of regular season crown
Kernan nets 15 points to become 35th 1,000-point scorer in program history
Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) finished with 15 points, shooting 7-for-8 from the field, to become the 35th player in program history at Stonehill to eclipse 1,000 career points. Kernan, who now has 1,003 points in 116 career games played, also contributed a game-high nine rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.
Senior Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) led the four Stonehill players in double-figures with 17 points, shooting 6-for-8 from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, while converting all three free-throw attempts, to go with six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocked shots. Junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) added 16 points, shooting 6-for-10 from the field and 4-of-6 at the line, with two rebounds and two assists, while sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) contributed 11 points, shooting 3-for-4 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and converting 3-of-5 free-throws. Senior Sean Costigan (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus) chipped in with a season-best seven points.
Stonehill shot 57.7-percent (30-for-52) from the field, including 60% (15-25) in the second half, with the Skyhawks starting unit (Kernan, Almeida, Heppert, Markle and Costigan) connecting at 73.5-percent (25-34) overall, including 55.6% (5-9) from three-point range.
Senior Daniel Heppert led the Skyhawks with 17 points, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)
Senior Cory Vejraska (Alachua, Fla./Santa Fe) was the lone Southern New Hampshire player in double-figures with 16 points, shooting 4-for-8 from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, while converting all six free-throw attempts, with three rebounds and three steals. Sophomore Corey Boland (Union, N.J./Wardlaw-Hartridge) added eight points, aided by a 6-for-6 shooting at the line, and five rebounds, while junior Tory Stapleton (Rahway, N.J./Saint Thomas More) pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
Southern New Hampshire was held to 30.9-percent (17-for-55) shooting overall, including 8-for-23 (34.8%) from beyond the arc, but converted all 12 free-throw attempts for the night. The Penmen posted a 15-4 advantage in second chance points.
A 15-6 Southern New Hampshire run over a five minute span late in the first half closed a 13 point deficit (26-13) after a Heppert layup with 7:46 left in the opening frame down to four (32-28) with two free-throws by Vejraska 2:45 before the break. That was as close as the Penmen would get as Stonehill scored the last seven points of the half; five by Markle, including a three to stem the tide and take an 11 point (39-28) lead into halftime.
Stonehill opened the second half with a 14-2 run to open a 23-point lead (53-30) after a layup by junior Andre Tongo (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) with 14:10 to play. A Vejraska three cut the SNHU deficit to 19 (54-35) with 11:52 to play, but the Skyhawks ran the lead to a game-high 35 (78-43) with Costigan's three with 3:36 remaining.
Kernan had seven points at halftime and reached his 1,000-point milestone with a layup to put Stonehill up 23 (58-35) with 11:08 remaining in regulation.
The win sets up a showdown with rival Bentley University (19-6, 17-4 NE-10), ranked first in the region, for a share of the NE-10 regular season championship in Merkert Gym at 7:30 p.m. Stonehill (21-5, 16-5 NE-10) also moved a game clear of American International College in the NE-10 standings with the Yellow Jackets 69-63 loss at Adelphi University today. However, the Skyhawks will be seeded no higher than second for the upcoming NE-10 tournament as a win over Bentley on Wednesday would earn a split in the regular season series, sending the tiebreaker between the two down the standings to AIC who defeated Stonehill, but lost to Bentley this season. If Stonehill and AIC finish tied, the Yellow Jackets own the head-to-head tiebreaker and would relegate the Skyhawks to the third seed.
Stonehill will host an NE-10 Tournament quarterfinal round matchup on Monday, February 28, at 7 p.m. Southern New Hampshire (10-15, 6-15 NE-10), who saw its postseason hopes dashed this afternoon, will close out its season on Wednesday when it hosts Merrimack College at 7:30 p.m.