ELITE EIGHT: Stonehill Stuns #3 West Liberty to Reach Final Four, 91-90

Senior Andre Tongo scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the first half to go with nine rebounds and career-high six steals. (PHOTO BY Tim Patrick)

Tongo and Lee provide senior leadership to dispatch Hilltoppers

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (March 21, 2012) – Unranked Stonehill College, receiving votes in the NABC Division II poll, dominated the glass and shot over 50-percent from the field, to post a rousing 91-90 victory over No. 3-ranked West Liberty (W.V.) University to kick start the 2012 NCAA Division II Elite Eight, hosted by Northern Kentucky University, at The Bank of Kentucky Center this afternoon.

Stonehill (25-8, 15-7 NE-10), the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament and NCAA East Region champions, advance to tomorrow night's national semifinals where it will battle No. 12-ranked Western Washington University at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on CBS College Sports and also streamed via http://www.ncaa.comwith links also available through www.stonehillskyhawks.com. Western Washington advanced with a one point win of its own, 64-63, over fifth-ranked Midwestern State University in today's second quarterfinal matchup. The national championship game will be played here on Saturday at 1 p.m., and televised by CBS.

In a matchup that pitted the nation's top offense in West Liberty, who came into the game averaging a Division II best 102.8 points per game, against the top remaining defense in the country (and ranked fourth overall) in Stonehill, who allows just 58.7 points per game, offense won out, but it was the defensive team that was able to make key stops in the closing minutes and knock down big shots and advance.

Seniors Andre Tongo (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) and Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) provided huge leadership to key Stonehill's tenth-straight win. Tongo made 8-of-16 shots from the field, including 3-for-8 from three-point range, while converting 5-of-8 free-throws for a team-high 24 points (16 first half) to go with nine rebounds and a career-best six steals. Lee finished with 14 points, aided by 6-of-8 shooting from the free-throw line, six rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals.

Senior Patrick Lee scored the final seven points for Stonehill to seal the victory. (PHOTO BY Tim Patrick)

Freshman Jack Cole (New Providence, N.J./New Providence) had a big game inside with a season-high 15 points as he was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, including a three-pointer, and 4-for-4 at the line with seven rebounds. Junior Raheem May-Thompson (London, England/Towson (Md.) Catholic) added 14 points off the bench on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 from the line to go with seven boards (four offensive), three assists and a steal. Classmate Brian Hamor (Schenectady, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) chipped in with seven points and six assists, while sophomore Mitch Amelio (Carlsbad, Calif./La Jolla Country Day) provided another spark off the bench by burying 3-of-4 threes for nine points.

Junior All-American Alex Falk (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) led all scorers with 26 points (16 second half) for West Liberty on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, including 2-for-3 from three-point range, while converting 8-of-12 free-throws with four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Sophomore Keene Cockburn (North Ridgeville, Ohio/North Ridgeville) provided a big lift off the bench for the Hilltoppers, especially the first half, with 17 points (15 first half) on 6-of-10 shooting, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, while converting 2-of-4 free-throws with five boards and two steals.

Freshman Shawn Dyer (Marion, Ohio/Marion Harding) added 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, three rebounds and two steals for West Liberty, while junior Tim Hausfeld (Toledo, Ohio/Southview) rounded out the double-figure scorers with 13 points, three assists and two boards.

Stonehill shot 53.8-percent (14-for-26) from the field in the second half to finish at 50.8% (30-for-59) for the contest. The Skyhawks buried 10-of-19 (52.6%) three-pointers, including 5-for-7 (71.4%) in the opening half, and dominated the glass with a 39-29 margin, including 15 offensive rebounds, that resulted in a 16-7 Stonehill break on second chance points.

Freshman Jack Cole didn't miss a shot in netting a season-high 15 points to go with seven rebounds. (PHOTO BY Tim Patrick)

West Liberty was limited to 49.2-percent (29-for-59) from the floor, including 9-for-23 (39.1%) from deep, while converting 23-of-31 (74.2%) free-throws. The Hilltoppers entered the game averaging a Division II-best 102.8 points per game, while also leading the country in assists per game (21.1), scoring margin (+21.1) and free-throw percentage (80.2%).

A 16-2 run rallied West Liberty from five points down to a nine point lead (69-60) with 10:53 to play in regulation on a Dyer layup. Tongo was fouled shooting a three pointer, but made just one of three and the Hilltoppers extended the lead to ten (71-61) with a Dyer jumper with 9:49 to play.

Stonehill responded with a 14-2 run of its own to regain the lead (75-73) on a Tongo three-pointer with 6:39 remaining. Falk answered with a layup with 5:52 left to knot the score (75-75). That would prove to be the last deadlock of the night as a 9-2 Skyhawks spurt regained a seven point lead (84-77) after two Tongo free-throws with 3:51 on the clock. May-Thompson had four points during that stretch for the Skyhawks.

Dyer converted a three-point play and Hausfeld buried a three ball to draw West Liberty within a point (84-83) with 2:36 to play, but Stonehill again answered. Lee scored a tip-in and had a layup to push the lead back to five (88-83) with 35-seconds to go. Lee had the Skyhawks last seven points on the night to seal the win. His two free-throws with five seconds to play sealed it and helped stave off a pair of late three's from Falk in the final six seconds.

Stonehill jumped out to a six point lead (15-9) five minutes into the game after back to back layups by Tongo and Lee. Cole drilled a three-pointer to push the lead to seven (20-13) with 12:20 to play in the half on its way to a nine point first half advantage (25-16) on a three by Amelio.

A 12-2 West Liberty run regained the lead (28-27) with 9:05 to go after back to back three-pointers from Cockburn. Stonehill answered and reclaimed a five point lead (34-39) with a May-Thompson layup with 7:24 to go. The Skyhawks stretched the advantage to eight (39-31) with a Tongo three with 4:38 left in the half before the Hilltoppers drew within a point (42-41) as Cockburn made one of two at the line with 1:31 to go.

Stonehill carried a four point (45-41) lead into the half after a Tongo layup with 29-seconds to go. The Skyhawks worked their lead back to nine (57-48) less than five minutes into the second half after back to back three's by junior Brian Hamor (Schenectady, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) before West Liberty posted its fun to open its nine point lead.

Stonehill has reached the Final Four for the second time in program history, matching the feat accomplished by the 2006 squad that made the first Elite Eight appearance in program history. The Skyhawks were defeated by eventual National Champions Winona State University in the 2006 semifinals, 83-73.

Stonehill Postgame Press Conference