NE-10 Champion Stonehill to Battle UDC in NCAA Opener

Senior Andre Tongo leads the Skyhawks into the NCAA Tournament after earning MVP honors at the NE-10 Championship last weekend. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Second-seeded Skyhawks open fourth-straight NCAA Tournament Saturday

Live Interactive Blog

BROCKTON ENTERPRISE: "Stonehill faces defensive test in NCAA men's basketball tourney opener"

Official East Regional Tournament Website

EASTON, Mass. (March 8, 2012) – Northeast-10 Conference Champions Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll, is set to battle seventh-seeded University of District of Columbia, also among teams receiving votes nationally, in opening round action of the 2012 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball East Regional, hosted by Franklin Pierce University, but held at Assumption College's Andrew Laska Gymnasium on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Admission for each tournament session will be $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students, children and senior citizens. Children under 2 will be admitted at no charge and tickets can be purchased at Laska Gym on game days. All games at the East Regional will be webcast live and free of charge via, with links to Stonehill's games also available via Stonehill will also be offering an interactive live in-game blog, through Cover-it-Live, via the official website of Skyhawks athletics, with updates also posted on the Skyhawks' Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Second-seeded Stonehill (21-8, 15-7 NE-10) enters the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the East Region, fresh of the fourth Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Championship in program history after Saturday's 73-61 triumph over the University of Massachusetts Lowell in a packed Merkert Gymnasium. The Skyhawks, who finished third in the NE-10 standings during the regular season, has earned a program-record fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament by way of the NE-10's automatic bid, marking the fifth trip under head coach David McLaughlin and the 12th in program history overall. McLaughlin, who guided Stonehill its first regional title and trip to the Final Four in 2006, has become the winningest coach in program history this season with his 174-83 (.677) career mark, surpassing Hall of Famer Ray Pepin (171-151/.531).

Senior Patrick Lee, the NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year, had a strong week in the NE-10 as well. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Stonehill is one of the top defensive teams in the country, allowing a league-low 58.3 points per game (4th nationally), .396 opponents field goal percentage (11th) and .309 three-point field goal percentage (27th), with a league best 4.7 blocked shots per game (15th), while also ranking third in rebounding margin (+3.3/gm), first for offensive rebounds (12.3) and second for fewest turnovers per game (12.8). The Skyhawks are winners of a season-high six straight games and seven of eight after Saturday's championship win. The Skyhawks are ninth in the NE-10 for scoring (67.0 ppg), second in three-point shooting percentage (.380) and third with 37.7 rebounds per game.

Senior Andre Tongo (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) is coming off an MVP performance at the NE-10 tournament as he averaged 23 points on 56.1-percent (23-for-41) shooting, including 10-of-19 (52.6%) from three-point range, while converting 13-of-15 (86.7%) free-throws over the week to go with 5.7 rebounds, two assists and two steals per game. He is averaging 13.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and a team-high 1.3 steals, while shooting 41.1% from the field, including 39.8% (47-122) from deep, and 72.6% (53-73) from the line. Tongo is also averaging a team-best 17 points in eight games against the East Regional field this season to go with 5.4 rebounds per game.

Junior Brian Hamor (Schenectady, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons), a second team All-Northeast-10 and NE-10 All-Tournament team selection, leads the Skyhawks in scoring with 13.4 points on 40.7-percent shooting from the field, including 34.6% (44-127) from beyond the arc, and converting 72.8% (99-136) of his free-throws, to go with 3.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists (11th) in a team-high 31.9 minutes per game.

Senior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius), the NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year, third team All-Conference and NE-10 All-Tournament team selection, is the backbone of the Stonehill defensive effort and is averaging 10.8 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds (2nd NE-10), with 1.4 assists, 1.0 blocked shots (9th) and 1.2 steals in 30.3 minutes per game, shooting a team-best 49.6-percent from the field. Junior Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa./Crestwood) leads a Skyhawks bench that outscores their opponent reserves by an average of 6.1 points per game (20.5-14.4) with 9.0 points on 42.8% shooting, including a team-best 45.5% (61-134) from deep, while converting 77.3% (34-44) of his free-throws.

Junior Adam Fazzini leads a group of Stonehill reserves which is outscoring the opponent reserved by over six points per game. (PHOTO BY Marcus Snowden)

District of Columbia (22-5, 13-3 ECC) is making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and first since 2004. The Firebirds, who captured the Division II National Championship in 1982 and were runners-up in 1983, turned in a second place finish during their first season in the East Coast Conference. UDC enters the NCAA Tournament having dropped back to back games for the first time after being topped by the University of Bridgeport, 76-65, in the ECC Tournament.

UDC is averaging 82.5 points per game, while holding the opposition to just 71.3 per outing. The Firebirds are shooting 44.8-percent from the field, including 36% from beyond the arc, while converting 73.4% of their free-throws. Head Coach Jeff Ruland, a former two-time NBA All-Star with the Washington Bullets during the 1980s, is in his third season at District of Columbia, leading the program to a 21-win turnaround in just three seasons.

Seniors Nigel Munson (Washington, D.C./DeMatha) and Brandon Herbert (Baltimore, Md./McDonough) have combined to average nearly 40 points per game to lead UDC this winter. Munson, a first team All-East Region and All-ECC pick, leads the Firebirds with 19.9 points on 48.7% shooting from the field and a 73.4% (91-124) effort at the free-throw line to go with 5.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Herbert is contributing 19.6 points, aided by 38.4% (91-237) shooting from deep, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

Senior Dishawn Bradshaw (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances Academy) rounds out the Firebirds' double-figure scorers with 14.3 points on 40.7% shooting from the field and 87.3% (96-110) at the line to go with 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a steal per game. Junior Dyrek Jones (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bedford Academy), the ECC Defensive Player of the Year, blocks 3.5 shots per game to go with a team-best 7.4 boards and 5.2 points per contest.

Saturday will mark just the second meeting all-time between the two programs and the first in postseason play. Stonehill coasted to a 69-45 victory in the only other encounter on November 21, 2009, at Merkert Gym in Easton. A.J. Rudowitz led Stonehill with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field, including 1-for-2 from three-point range, while converting 2-of-4 free-throws with seven rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Munson led three UDC players in double-figures with 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals.

The winner of Saturday's opening round matchup will advance to the regional semifinals to face the winner of Saturday's regional opener between third-seeded Adelphi University (20-8, 16-6 NE-10), regular season co-champions in the NE-10, and sixth-seeded LIU-C.W. Post (23-5, 15-1 ECC) on Sunday at 5 p.m.  The regional final will be played on Tuesday at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, which will be held March 21-24 at the Bank of Kentucky Center in Highland Heights, Ky., and hosted by Northern Kentucky University. The East regional winner will face the Atlantic Region champion in a national quarterfinal on Wednesday, March 21.

2012 NCAA Division II
East Regional Tournament
hosted by Franklin Pierce University
at Laska Gymnasium on the campus of Assumption College, Worcester, Mass.

Saturday, March 10 (Quarterfinals)
#3 Adelphi (20-8) vs. #6 C.W. Post (23-5), Noon
#2 Stonehill (21-8) vs. #7 District of Columbia (22-5), 2:30 p.m.
#1 Franklin Pierce (21-7) vs. #8 Philadelphia (19-9), 6 p.m.
#4 UMass Lowell (19-10) vs. #5 Bloomfield (24-7), 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 11 (Semifinals)
Adelphi/C.W. Post winner vs. Stonehill/UDC winner, 5 p.m.
Franklin Pierce/Philadelphia winner vs. UMass Lowell/Bloomfield winner, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 13 (Championship)
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.