NCAA TOURNAMENT EAST REGIONAL: #7 Bloomfield Turns Back #3 Stonehill, 79-66

Senior Mike Kernan posted a double-double and surpassed 900 career rebounds in his final collegiate game. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

Bloomfield shoots 53.3-percent in the second half to reach first regional final

WALTHAM, Mass. (March 13, 2011) – Seventh-seeded Bloomfield College advanced to the regional final for the first time in program history with a 79-66 victory over third-seeded Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll, in semifinal round action of the 2011 NCAA Division II East Regional, hosted by Bentley University, at the Dana Athletic Center tonight.

Bloomfield (23-8, 15-3 CACC) will play the winner of tonight's second game between top-seeded and host Bentley and fifth-seeded College of Saint Rose in the East Regional final on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Stonehill closes out its season with a 22-8 record overall, 16-6 in the Northeast-10 where they finished tied for second place and earned a third-straight NCAA Tournament bid.

Senior guard Gage Daye (Newark, N.J.) poured in a game-high 31 points to lead Bloomfield as he made 10-of-18 shots from the field, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, and converted 8-of-9 free-throw attempts to go with four rebounds and four assists. Classmate Ryan Rodrigues (New Bedford, Mass.) added 15 second half points, four rebounds and three assists. Freshman Kevin Udo (West Orange, N.J.) contributed 14 points, on 7-of-9 shooting, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) notched his tenth double-double of the year (19th career) for Stonehill with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, including the 900th of his career. He is one of just three players in the program's NE-10 era to surpass 900 rebounds, finishing with 901 to go with 1,055 career points, good for 30th all-time.

Junior Ivan Almeida led the Skyhawks with 16 points to go with eight rebounds. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportPixCo)

Junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) led all Stonehill scorers with 16 points, shooting 7-for-12 from the field and converting 2-of-3 free-throws, and eight rebounds. Senior Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) added 15 points and five boards, while sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) chipped in 13 points, two rebounds and two assists off the bench.

Bloomfield finished shooting 46.7-percent (28-for-60) from the field, including 53.3% (16-30) in the second half, and converted 85.7% (18-21) free-throw attempts. The Deacons turned 17 Stonehill turnovers into a 15-10 advantage in points off turnovers (10-0 in the second half), while also enjoying a 23-13 break in bench points. The Skyhawks shot 37.1-percent (23-for-62) from the field, including 4-for-19 (21.1%) from three-point range, making just one of their last 16. Stonehill made 16-of-22 (72.7%) free-throws and posted a 42-34 rebounding edge.

Stonehill led by three (33-30) at halftime and opened a five point lead (39-34) when Lee made one of two at the line with 16:27 to go in the half. Bloomfield reeled off a 7-0 run, keyed by five points from Rodrigues to take the lead (41-39) with 14:05 left. The lead went back and forth until the Deacons opened a five point cushion (49-44) with a Udo layup with 11:52 to play.

Stonehill closed within two (51-49) after a pair of Heppert free-throws with 8:52 remaining, but Bloomfield quickly regained a six point lead (55-49) on a Rodrigues layup with 8:13 on the clock. Bloomfield answered again, taking a seven point lead (62-55) with a three-pointer by junior Art Ellis (Magnolia, N.J.) with 5:28 on the clock. The Skyhawks wouldn't go away and drew within four (66-62) when Almeida put back a missed three with a dunk with 2:09 remaining, but that would be the closest they would get.

Bloomfield sealed the win by making 11 of 12 free-throws the rest of the way and Stonehill made just 2-of-7 shots down the stretch and committed two turnovers as the Deacons opened as much as a 14 point (78-64) lead in the final minute.

Stonehill held the early momentum, taking a six point lead (17-11) with 13:35 left in first half after back-to-back three's by Hamor. He made the first three of the night from deep for the Skyhawks. Bloomfield used a 12-2 run to take its first lead of the night and extend it to four (23-19) after a Udo put back with 9:38 left before the break.

Stonehill answered with six straight points to regain the lead (25-23) on an Almeida jumper with 6:06 left. Bloomfield took the lead back (28-27) with a jumper from junior Matt Wafula (Harlem, N.Y.) with 3:47 to go. The Skyhawks closed out the half with a 6-2 spurt to take the three point (33-30) lead into the break after four straight points by sophomore Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) to close the frame out.

Coach McLaughlin postgame press conference