Philadelphia Tops Stonehill, 68-63

Senior Andre Tongo led all Stonehill scorers with 15 points to go with nine rebounds against Philadelphia. (PHOTO BY Br. Charles McBride)

52.4-percent shooting and Connolly's 28 points propel Rams to victory

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (December 30, 2011) – Philadelphia University shot over 52-percent from the field to key a 68-63 victory over Stonehill College in non-conference men's basketball action on day two of the 2011 East Region Classic at Harris Gymnasium this afternoon.

Junior guard Jimmy Connolly (Harleysville, Pa./Souderton Area) led the way for Philadelphia with a game-high 28 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, including 4-for-7 from three-point range, while converting all eight free-throw attempts and grabbing four rebounds.

Philadelphia finished shooting 52.4-percent (22-for-42) from the field, including 6-for-12 (50%) from three-point range, while converting 18-of-23 (78.3%) free-throws for the night. The Rams fired at 52.9% (9-for-17) in the second half after hitting an even 52% (13-25) of their shots in the first half. Stonehill, after shooting nearly 52-percent from the field in Thursday's win over Holy Family, was held to 37.1-percent (23-for-62) today, including 33.3% (12-36) in the second half, and made just 6-of-19 (31.6%) three pointers after hitting at 53.6% (15-28) on Thursday.

Senior Corey Francisco (Woodbridge, N.J./Monmouth Academy) and sophomore Nick Christian (Bensalem, Pa./Bensalem) both added 12 points and a team-high five rebounds for Philadelphia. Francisco made 2-of-4 three-pointers and added three assists, while Christian chipped in two assists, a blocked shot and a steal. Senior Temi Adebayo (Ibadan, Nigeria) rounded out the Rams double figure scorers with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

Senior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) posted his second-straight double-double (seventh career) with 12 points and a game-high ten rebounds to go with two assists. Classmate Andre Tongo (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) nearly added a double-double of his own with a team-leading 15 points to go with nine rebounds (five offensive) and two assists. Junior Raheem May-Thompson (London, England/Towson (Md.) Catholic) contributed 12 points and four boards.

Stonehill out-rebounded Philadelphia by a 38-29 margin, resulting in a 21-7 edge for second chance points. The Skyhawks turned the ball over just ten times, but got assists on only seven of their 23 field goals.

Junior Raheem May-Thompson added 12 points and four rebounds off the bench on Friday. (PHOTO BY Br. Charles McBride)

After trailing by as much as 17 in the first half, Stonehill appeared to have reversed momentum when it took a four point lead (53-49) after Lee made one of two at the free-throw line with 7:25 to play in the second half to cap an 11-2 run. Tongo and junior Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More) canned three-pointers, while junior Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa./Crestwood) converted a conventional three-point play during that stretch.

Philadelphia quickly regained the lead after a Connolly three and scored seven straight points to open a three point advantage (56-53) with 5:43 remaining. Stonehill drew even at 56 after Tongo made one of two at the line with 3:45 left and 58 with a Lee jumper with 2:56 to go. However, the Skyhawks would go scoreless over the next two and a half minutes, while Philadelphia scored the next eight points, including six-straight at the free-throw line, to take the lead for good and open a margin Stonehill wouldn't be able to overcome.

Markle ended Stonehill's drought with a three with 33-seconds to go, but the Skyhawks couldn't take advantage of 2-of-6 shooting at the line by the Rams over the final half minute during a last gasp comeback effort.

Philadelphia look poised to run away early as a 16-2 run opened a 17 point lead (23-6) with 11:59 remaining in the first half after back-to-back baskets by Connolly. Francisco scored eight of his 12 points in the game during that five and a half minute stretch alone. Stonehill regrouped and closed the gap to three (23-20) after a Tongo layup that capped a 14-0 run over the next seven and a half minutes. May-Thompson scored four points during that stretch, including a dunk the spark the rally.

Stonehill closed within a point on three occasions over the final three minutes of the half, but Philadelphia took a four point lead (35-31) into halftime as Connolly buried a three with four seconds left in the half. Adebayo scored the first three points of the second half as the Rams regained a seven point lead (38-31) just over a minute in, but the Skyhawks used an 11-2 spurt to take their first lead (42-40) after scoring the opening basket with a Markle three with 14:08 to play.

Philadelphia regained a five point advantage (49-44) with a Connolly jumper as the half reached the midway point, before Stonehill's run that produced its game-high four point lead (53-49) on Lee's free-throw with 7:25 left.

Stonehill (8-3, 5-2 NE-10) is back on action on Tuesday, when it opens the New Year and returns to Northeast-10 Conference action by hosting the University of New Haven at 7:30 p.m. Philadelphia (7-4, 3-0 CACC) hosts Holy Family University on Tuesday at 6 p.m.