NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND: #3 Stonehill Holds Off #6 Adelphi, 73-64

Senior Mike Kernan led three Skyhawks with double-doubles as he finished with team-highs of 18 points and 14 rebounds. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPixCo) 

Skyhawks reach regional semifinals for second-straight year behind three double-double efforts

WALTHAM, Mass. (March 12, 2011) – Third-seed Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll, used three double-double performances to fuel a 73-64 victory over sixth-seeded Adelphi University in opening round action of the 2011 NCAA Division II East Regional, hosted by Bentley University, at the Dana Athletic Center this afternoon.

Stonehill (22-7, 16-6 NE-10) advances to the regional semifinal round for the second-straight year and will face the winner of today's second quarterfinal between second-seeded American International College (20-8, 16-6 NE-10) and seventh-seeded Bloomfield College (21-8, 15-3 CACC) tomorrow night at 6 p.m. Adelphi sees its season come to a close with a 20-11 overall record, including a 12-10 clip in Conference play, after earning the Northeast-10 Conference's automatic bid by winning the NE-10 tournament last weekend.

Three Stonehill players notched double-doubles, led by senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) with a team-high 18 points and a game-best 14 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the year (18th career), shooting 5-for-11 from the field but converting 8-of-10 free-throw attempts. Junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) added his fourth double-double of the year (fifth career) with ten points and 12 rebounds (six offensive), while classmate Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) picked up his third double-double of the year with ten points and ten rebounds, converting 6-of-7 free-throws, to go with four steals and two blocked shots.

Stonehill placed five players in double-figures for scoring for the third time this season (3-0). Senior Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) contributed 12 points, making all eight free-throw attempts, and eight boards, while sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) chipped in 11 points off the bench on 9-10 shooting from the line.

Junior Patrick Lee also notched a double-double, finishing with ten points, ten rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPixCo) 

Junior Robert Johnson (New Rochelle, N.Y.) led all scorers with 20 points (15 second half) for Adelphi as he made 8-of-12 shots from the field, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, to go with three rebounds. Senior Richard Byrd (Central Islip, N.Y.) scored 15 points (just four in the second half), shooting 4-for-16 from the field, including 1-of-3 from beyond the arc, while converting 6-of-8 free-throws, to go with three rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots.

Stonehill finished shooting just 33.3-percent (19-for-57) from the field, going 0-for-8 from three-point range, but converted 35-of-44 (79.5%) free-throw attempts for the afternoon. The Skyhawks also dominated the glass in the second half to finish with a 49-29 rebounding advantage (26-14 second half), including 21-4 on the offensive glass. Stonehill outscored Adelphi 15-5 for second chance points, while its bench enjoyed a 17-8 edge.

Adelphi shot 44-percent (22-for-50) from the field, including 6-18 (33.3%) from beyond the arc (4-9/44.4% 2nd half), and converted 14-of-18 (77.8%) free-throw attempts. The Panthers posted a 27-21 edge in points off turnovers, including 20-9 in the second half.

Stonehill led by 14 (53-39) after a Kernan layup with 11:41 to play, but Adelphi reeled off seven points over the next two minutes to draw within seven (53-46)  after two free-throws by sophomore Bradley Simpson (Goulburn, Australia) with 9:28 left. Junior Richard Harkins (Bellmore, N.Y.) had four points during that stretch, including a three pointer.

Stonehill regained a double-figure lead (56-46) when sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) made one of two at the line with 8:01 remaining, but Adelphi used another 7-0 spurt to close within three (56-53) after a Johnson three with 6:29 left. The Skyhawks held again and pushed the lead back to nine (62-53) after an Almeida layup with 3:14 to play.

Postgame Press Conference

Adelphi had another charge left in it, closing within four (66-62) after a Harkins layup with 49-seconds to go. Hamor answered with two free-throws and made five of six overall in the final minute to seal the win, along with Heppert who added a pair as well. The Panthers missed two three's and turned the ball over once in their final three possessions.

Stonehill trailed just twice by two points in the opening minute and a half of the contest, staking out a 10-5 lead after a Lee layup 4:46 in. The Skyhawks pushed their lead to ten (21-11) after two Lee free-throws during a stretch where they scored seven of nine points at the line to take an 11 point lead (23-12) after two Kernan free-throws with 8:25 left in the half.

Stonehill took a 15 point (42-27) lead into halftime after a put back from Almeida with a second to play. The Skyhawks stretched that lead to a game-high 17 (46-29) after a Kernan layup 2:13 into the second half. After Adelphi closed within ten (49-39) with 13:52 to play, Stonehill pushed the lead back out to 14 (53-39) with four-straight points from Kernan to set up the stretch run.

Stonehill did not play Bloomfield during the regular season and lost a tough 87-84 double-overtime decision at American International in the lone regular season encounter between the two on January 19 in Springfield, Mass. The regional championship is slated for Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to o the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, which will be held March 23-26 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.