NE-10 SEMIFINALS: #3 Stonehill Tops #2 Adelphi for Title Shot, 73-60

Senior Andre Tongo scored 18 of his career-high 27 points in the first half to lead the Skyhawks past Adelphi in the NE-10 semifinals tonight. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Skyhawks to host fourth-seeded UMass Lowell for NE-10 Championship at Merkert Gym on Saturday at 1 p.m.

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (February 29, 2012) – Third-seeded Stonehill College, ranked third in this week's NCAA Division II East Regional rankings, earned a spot in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship game for the sixth time in program history after posting a 73-60 victory over second-seeded Adelphi University, ranked second in the East Region, in semifinal round action of the NE-10 Tournament at the Center for Recreation and Sport tonight.

Stonehill (20-8, 15-7 NE-10) will host fourth-seeded University of Massachusetts Lowell, ranked fourth in the region, for the NE-10 Championship at Merkert Gymnasium on Saturday at 1 p.m. Tickets will be $7.00 for adults, $4.00 for senior citizens and children and $1.00 for College students from participating teams with valid ID. The first 400 Stonehill students will be admitted free of charge, courtesy of the Athletic Department, Student Affairs, Student Activities and Rec Sports when presenting their Hillcard at the ticket table.

UMass Lowell (19-9, 13-9 NE-10) advanced with a 69-65 victory over top-seeded Franklin Pierce University in tonight's other semifinal. Adelphi (20-8, 16-6 NE-10) will await word on an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when bids are announced on Sunday night.

Senior guard Andre Tongo (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) sparked Stonehill to the win with a career-high 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field, including 5-for-8 from three-point range, and converting all four free-throw attempts to go with five rebounds, four assists and a steal. Tongo scored 18 points in the first half to spark the Skyhawks from a slow start, draining all four three-pointers as part of 5-of-6 shooting overall in the frame.

Freshman Jack Cole dominated inside with a game-high ten rebounds and season-best six blocked shots. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Junior Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa./Crestwood) added 15 points off the bench on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc to go with three rebounds and two assists. Freshman Jack Cole (New Providence, N.J./New Providence) was a force inside on the defensive end as he grabbed a game-high ten rebounds to go with a season-high six blocked shots and four points. Senior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) chipped in with seven points and six boards.

Junior Cliff Brown (Hempstead, N.Y./Uniondale) led Adelphi with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field, including his lone three-point attempt and all four of his tries from the line to go with four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Classmate Chris Ranglin (Yonkers, N.Y./Gorton)  added 12 points and a team-best nine rebounds with three steals, while junior Bradley Simpson (Goulburn, Australia) contributed 12 points off the bench on 6-of-7 shooting with eight rebounds. Senior Richard Harkins (Bellmore, N.Y./Long Island Lutheran) chipped in with 11 points, six assists and two steals.

Stonehill finished shooting 44.8-percent (26-for-58) from the field, including 12-for-27 (44.4%) from three-point range, after drilling 8-of-16 (50%) three's in the first half and then connecting at 48.4% (15-31) overall in the second to pull away. Adelphi posted a 40-37 rebounding edge and was held to 33.3-percent (20-60) shooting from the field, including 4-for-19 (21.1%) from deep, while converting 16-of-21 (76.2%) free-throws. The Panthers shot just 30% (9-30) from the floor after halftime, including 3-12 (25%) from beyond the arc.

Stonehill overcame a slow start which saw them dig an early six point (11-5) hole after a Duane Morgan (West Orange, N.J./West Orange) dunk six minutes into the game. The Skyhawks made just two of its first nine shots from the floor over the first eight minutes before junior Raheem May-Thompson  (London, England/Towson (Md.) Catholic) ended a four minute stretch without a field goal with a layup that drew the Skyhawks back within two points (11-9) with 11:51 to play in the half.

Junior Adam Fazzini added 15 points off the bench, aided by 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. (PHOTO BY Marcus Snowden)

Tongo followed with his first three of the night to put Stonehill in front for the first time (12-11) with 11:21 remaining. Adelphi regained a three-point lead (15-12) on a layup by Ranglin basket with 10:32 left, but sophomore Mitch Amelio (Carlsbad, Calif./La Jolla Country Day) knotted the score with a three with 9:54 to go.

Simpson put Adelphi back in front (17-15) with a bucket inside, but Fazzini was fouled while drilling a three ball and converted the four point play to spark a 9-2 spurt that put Stonehill up five (24-19) after a Tongo triple with 6:58 on the clock. That sparked a string of four-straight three-pointers for the Skyhawks as they opened an eight point cushion (30-22) on another Tongo three ball with 4:24 left on their way to a nine point margin (35-26) after two Tongo free-throws with 1:05 to go in the half. He had the last eight Stonehill points during that stretch.

Stonehill settled for a five point (35-30) lead at the intermission, but quickly scored the first five points of the second half to take a ten point lead (40-30) on a Lee free-throw two and a half minutes in. That was part of an overall 12-4 Skyhawks run to start the half to extend the lead to 13 (47-34) on a Lee layup with 14:17 to play.

Adelphi missed eight of its first ten shots over the opening seven minutes of the second half, before Harkins buried a three to draw the hosts within eight (47-39) with 13:10 remaining. Tongo answered with a three and a layup to push the Stonehill lead back to 13 (52-39) with 11:15 to play as the Panthers went another seven minutes without a field goal, missing six straight shots in that stretch, before Simpson scored a layup to pull the Panthers within 11 (56-45) with 6:44 left.

Ranglin followed with another three to draw Adelphi within eight (56-48) with 6:25 to go, but Stonehill held there and used a deciding 13-5 run over the next four minutes  to open a game-high 16 point lead (69-53) with 2:10 to go after back-to-back three's by Fazzini and Sam Markle (Bethany, Conn./Saint Thomas More).

Saturday will mark the sixth appearance in the NE-10 Championship game for Stonehill as the Skyhawks look to claim its fourth tournament title, but first since 1989. Stonehill hosted the 2006 championship, falling to Saint Anselm College (77-61), also winning NE-10 titles in 1981 and 1982.

Postgame Interviews