Stonehill Opens Third-Straight NCAA Tournament Appearance against Adelphi

Junior Ivan Almeida leads a balanced offensive attack and will also be part of a strong defense for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

Third-seeded Skyhawks open quest for second regional title in five years


EASTON, Mass. (March 11, 2010) – Third-seeded Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll, will square off against sixth-seeded Adelphi University, fresh off its Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Championship, in opening round action of the 2011 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball East Regional, hosted by Bentley University, at the Dana Athletic Center in Waltham, Mass., on Saturday at noon.

Admission will be $8.00 for adults and $3.00 for students, children and senior citizens. All games at the East Regional will be webcast live and free of charge via, with links to Stonehill's games also available via Stonehill will also be offering an interactive live in-game blog, through Cover-it-Now, via the official website of Skyhawks athletics.

Stonehill (21-7, 16-6 NE-10), who finished tied for second in the Northeast-10 standings this season, is making its third-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and 11th in program history overall. It marks the fourth trip under eight-year head coach David McLaughlin, who guided the Skyhawks to the Final Four for the first time in program history five years ago after capturing their first regional title to cap the 2005-06 season. Adelphi (20-10, 12-10 NE-10), in just its second year as a member of the NE-10, is making its 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament but first since 2007 that capped a string of three-straight bids.

Senior Mike Kernan is one of the top rebounders in the country and averages a double-double this season. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Tomorrow will mark the 18th meeting all-time between these two programs, the second in NCAA Tournament play and third in postseason action overall. Stonehill held on for a 67-64 victory over Adelphi in the regular season meeting between the two in Easton, Mass., on January 22. The Skyhawks also won the lone NCAA Tournament encounter with a 69-54 victory in the 2006 East Regional semifinals at Merkert Gymnasium. The Panthers posted a 59-58 victory the last time these two teams met in postseason play during the quarterfinal round of the 2010 NE-10 Tournament. Stonehill is 5-4 this season against teams competing this weekend at the East Regional, while Adelphi is 4-6 against the field after posting wins over top-seeded and host Bentley (championship), second-seeded American International College (quarterfinals) and fourth-seeded University of Massachusetts Lowell (semifinals) all on the road last week in its run to the NE-10 title.

Stonehill, who has lost two-straight games for the first time since the end of the 2008-09 season, has dropped six of its last seven postseason contests. The Skyhawks, who had won eight of nine before dropping back-to-back games to Bentley and UMass Lowell, boast the top defense in the NE-10, leading the Conference in scoring defense (60.2 ppg) and blocked shots (4.8/gm) while ranking second in field goal percentage defense (.383) and fifth for three-point field goal percentage defense (.310). Stonehill is also the top rebounding team in the NE-10, out rebounding its opponents by 9.0 per game (6.5 rebounds per game than second place Bentley), and pulling in 40.4 boards per game (4th NE-10). The Skyhawks also lead the NE-10 in field goal percentage (.457).

Senior Daniel Heppert is the NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year, but also contributes double-figures on offense. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

Stonehill's balanced offensive effort features four players in double-figures with its top five scorers separated by just 3.4 points per game. The Skyhawks are led by a trio of upperclassmen who all recently collected postseason awards in the NE-10. Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee), a second team All-NE-10 selection, is averaging a double-double for the Skyhawks with 12.3 points and 10.4 rebounds (2nd NE-10), with 1.0 blocked shots (8th) in 31.3 minutes per game. Junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde), also a second team All-Conference selection, leads a balanced Skyhawks scoring unit with 13.1 points per game to go with 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocked shots (6th) and 1.2 steals per contest. Senior Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine), the NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year, also contributes 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals per contest.

Adelphi also excels on the defensive end, ranking third among NE-10 leaders for scoring defense (62.4 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.389) and steals (8.3/gm). The Panthers lead the Conference in turnover margin (+3.23), forcing the opposition into 16 turnovers per game, while committing a Conference-low 12.8 per contest. They rank 12th in the NE-10 in scoring (68.0 ppg) and are second at the free-throw line (.775). Adelphi has won four-straight and seven of its last eight games heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Adelphi is led by a pair of senior All-Conference guards in Richard Byrd (Central Islip, N.Y./Copaigue), the NE-10 Tournament MVP and a second team All-Conference pick, and David Akinyooye (Elmont, N.Y./Elmont Memorial), a third team All-Conference selection. Byrd leads the Panthers with 16.9 points (9th NE-10), 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals (5th) and 1.9 assists in 34.6 minutes per game this season. He has converted a Northeast-10 best 91.4-percent (138-for-151) of his free-throw attempts this season. Akinyooye adds 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds (8th), 1.4 blocks (4th) and 1.3 assists per game, shooting 47.3-percent from the field and 42.4% (14-33) from three-point range.

In Stonehill's 67-64 win over Adelphi in January, the Skyhawks held off a second half rally by the Panthers after leading by 11 (37-26) at the break. Almeida led a balanced Stonehill scoring effort with a game-high 16 points, on 6-for-14 shooting from the field, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Byrd led four Adelphi players in double-figures with 15 points, four assists and three rebounds.

The winner of tomorrow's matchup will advance the regional semifinal round to face the winner of tomorrow's second quarterfinal between third-seeded American International (20-8, 16-6 NE-10) and seventh-seeded Bloomfield College (21-8, 15-3 CACC) on Sunday at 6 p.m. The regional final will be played on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, which will be held March 23-26 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.

Coach's Corner with Dave McLaughlin

2011 NCAA Division II
East Regional Tournament
hosted by Bentley University, Waltham, Mass.

Saturday, March 12 (Quarterfinals)
#3 Stonehill (21-7) vs. #6 Adelphi (20-10), Noon
#2 American International (20-8) vs. #7 Bloomfield (21-8), 2:30 p.m.
#1 Bentley (22-7) vs. #8 C.W. Post (21-9), 6 p.m.
#4 UMass Lowell (20-9) vs. #5  Saint Rose (21-8), 8:30 p.m. 

Sunday, March 13 (Semifinals)
Stonehill/Adelphi winner vs. American International/Bloomfield winner, 6 p.m.
Bentley/C.W. Post winner vs. UMass Lowell/Saint Rose winner, 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 15 (Championship)
Semifinal winners, 8:30 p.m.