Senior Andre Tongo was named Tournament MVP after leading the Skyhawks with 23 points, five rebounds and three steals. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)
Skyhawks snap 23-year title drought with fourth NE-10 Championship
Tongo named Tournament MVP after leading Skyhawks with 23 points
Lee and Hamor join Tongo on All-Championship team
EASTON, Mass. (March 3, 2012) – Third-seeded Stonehill College, ranked third in this week's NCAA Division II East Regional rankings, broke a 23-year title drought and captured its fourth Northeast-10 Conference Men's Basketball Championship with a 73-61 triumph over fourth-seeded University of Massachusetts Lowell, ranked fourth in the region, in front of a sellout crowd of 1,540 at Merkert Gymnasium this afternoon.
Stonehill (21-8, 15-7 NE-10) wins its first NE-10 tournament championship since 1989, marking the program's fourth title overall, having also won the first two NE-10 championships ever held in 1981 and 1982. The Skyhawks earn the NE-10's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament, which will tip off with East Regional action next Saturday. UMass Lowell (19-10, 13-9 NE-10) is a lock to receive an at large bid when the NCAA selection committee announces the field Sunday night at www.ncaa.com.
Senior guard Andre Tongo (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the NE-10 Tournament as he led Stonehill with a team-high 23 points (16 second half) on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, including 4-fo-7 from three-point range, while converting 5-of-7 free-throws to go with five rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. He averaged 23 points, 5.7 rebounds, three assists and three steals over the Skyhawks three NE-10 tournament wins as he shot 56.1-percent (23-41) from the field, including 10-19 (52.6%) from beyond the arc, and converted 13-of-15 (86.7%) free-throws for the week.
Tongo was joined on the All-Tournament team by senior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) and junior Brian Hamor (Schenectady, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) as well as UMass Lowell senior Robbie Walton (South Boston, Mass./Boston Latin) and sophomore Akeem Williams (Brockton, Mass./The Winchendon School).
Junior Raheem May-Thompson scored ten first half points to spark the Skyhawks to a ten point halftime lead. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)
Lee finished a point shy of a double-double with nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while Hamor chipped in with nine points, two assists and two boards. Freshman Jack Cole (New Providence, N.J./New Providence) contributed ten points on 4-of-5 shooting, including 1-for-2 from deep, converting his lone free-throw attempt, while junior Raheem May-Thompson (London, England/Towson (Md.) Catholic) finished with ten points (all first half) on 4-of-6 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
Williams led all scorers with a game-high 25 points (15 second half) to lead the way for UMass Lowell as he shot 9-for-22 from the field, including 1-of-7 from beyond the arc, while converting 6-of-10 free-throws to go with three assists and two steals. Walton was the only other River Hawk in double-figures with ten points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-for-4 from deep, with three boards.
Stonehill shot 52-percent (13-for-25) from the field, including 3-for-7 (42.9%) from beyond the arc, in building a ten point (36-26) halftime lead, and finished shooting 47.9% (23-48) for the contest, including 7-for-17 (41.2%) from deep, while converting 20-of-27 (74.1%) free-throw attempts. The Skyhawks posted a 41-30 rebounding advantage. UMass Lowell was held to 32.3% (10-31) shooting in the opening half, but connected on 50% (15-30) in the second to finish at 41% (25-61) overall, but just 4-for-23 (17.4%) from three-point range, while converting 7-of-17 (41.2%) free-throws.
Stonehill started fast, scoring the first seven points of the contest as Cole opened the game with an open three-pointer, before Lee added a jumper and Hamor drained two free-throws three minutes in. Junior Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa./Crestwood) drilled a three to push the lead to eight (10-2) 4:12 into the game, before a Tongo triple made the lead nine (13-4) and then May-Thompson scored a layup for the Skyhawks first ten point cushion (17-7) at the six minute mark.
Back to back Hamor jumpers put Stonehill up a game-high 14 points (23-9) with 10:38 left in the opening half. The Skyhawks lead was still ten (26-16) after a three-point play by Hamor with 5:05 on the clock, when UMass Lowell used a 10-2 spurt to draw within two (28-26) after a Williams three with 2:24 to play in the half. Stonehill bounced back and was able to regain a ten point advantage at the break (36-26) with May-Thompson scoring the final eight points of the half.
UMass Lowell opened the second half with an 11-2 run to pull within a point (38-37) after a Walton layup with 15:49 to play. Stonehill wouldn't allow a UML lead, as it answered a series of second half runs to claim the championship and its season-high sixth straight win. The Skyhawks used a 12-2 run to regain an 11 point advantage (50-39) on a three-point play by Hamor with 12:55 on the clock.
UMass Lowell drew back within four (55-51) after a jumper from junior Matt Welch (Lowell, Mass./Lowell) with 8:37 left, but Tongo buried back to back three's to push the Stonehill lead back to ten (61-51) with 6:49 to go. The River Hawks made one last run, closing within six (61-55) after two straight baskets by Williams with 5:42 to go. The Skyhawks had the answer yet again, this time converting six of eight at the line over the next three minutes to push the lead back to 12 (67-55) with 2:53 to play, for what proved to be the deciding run.
Stonehill captured its fourth NE-10 Championship in program history, but its first since 1989. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)
|Postgame Press Conferences