Stonehill Nets Key Win at Pace, 61-58

Sophomore Jack Cole posted his seventh double-double of the season to lead the Skyhawks to a big win today. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Cole leads Skyhawks to second-straight win with seventh double-double

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. (February 2, 2013) – Stonehill College climbed right back into the thick of the postseason hunt with a key 61-58 victory over Pace University in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action at Goldstein Fitness Center this afternoon.

Sophomore forward Jack Cole (New Providence, N.J./New Providence) notched is seventh career double-double (all this season) and Stonehill shot 57.1-percent (8-for-14) from the field in the second half, including 3-for-6 (50%) from three-point range, in claiming back-to-back NE-10 wins for the first time this season. Cole made 6-of-10 shots from the field and converted 3-of-4 free-throws for a team-best 15 points and a game-high matching 11 rebounds to go with a blocked shot and steal.

Senior Brian Hamor (Schenectady, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) was the only other Stonehill player in double-figures with ten points as he made 2-of-5 three-pointers and converted 4-of-6 free-throws to go with four assists and three boards. Freshman Pierce Cumpstone (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Kenston) led a Skyhawks bench that outscored the Pace reserves 26-3 with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting, draining both three's, in 13 minutes, while classmate Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) contributed seven points, aided by 4-for-4 shooting at the line, and five assists off the bench.

Stonehill finished shooting 46.3-percent (19-for-41) from the field, including 9-for-19 (47.4%) from beyond the arc, and converted 14-of-21 (66.7%) free-throws. The Skyhawks posted a 33-31 rebounding edge. Pace shot 33.3-percent (18-for-54) from the floor, including 29.6% (8-27) in the second half, connecting on just 3-of-13 (23.1%) three-pointers, and made 19-of-21 (90.5%) free-throws.

Junior Denzel Primus-Devonish (Riverdale, Md./St. John's College) led Pace with a game-high 20 points, aided by a 9-for-9 effort at the free-throw line, four rebounds, three assists and five steals. Senior Keon Williams (Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack) posted a double-double for the Setters with 15 points and a game-high matching 11 rebounds, making 6-of-10 shots from the field and converting all three free-throws. Junior Jonathan Merceus (Union, N.J./Union) also netted 15 points to go with six boards (three offensive), three steals and a blocked shot.

Senior Brian Hamor chipped in ten points for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

The game featured just one tie and the lead changed hands just once as well, but it was anything but a walk in the park for Stonehill who moves within a game of the tenth and final spot in the NE-10 Tournament at the end of the month. Pace scored eight of the first ten points in the game, keyed by six points from Primus-Devonish. The Skyhawks responded with a 14-0 run to take a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the afternoon and open an eight point lead (16-8) midway through the half after a three-pointer from senior Sam Markle (Branford, Conn./Saint Thomas More) capped a run of four straight triples for the visitors, including a pair from junior Mitch Amelio (Carlsbad, Calif./La Jolla Country Day).

The Stonehill run extended to 22-4 after a Cumpstone three to push the lead to 12 points (24-12) with 5:57 remaining in the half. Cumpstone drained another three-ball after two straight baskets by Merceus to put the Skyhawks back up 11 (27-16) with 4:16 left, but Pace closed the half out with a 10-2 spurt to close within three (29-26) at the intermission. Merceus, who scored eight straight points for the Setters, had four points to spark the run before freshman Jaylen Mann (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) drained a three and Primus-Devonish canned three free-throws with a second left after he was fouled shooting a triple.

Back to back baskets by freshman Josh Heyliger (Bear, Del./The Hill School) pushed Stonehill's lead back to seven (33-26) in the first 1:13 of the second half. Pace quickly closed the gap to a single point (34-33) three and a half minutes into the frame after seven straight points from Williams.

Stonehill would bend but not break and after the lead hovered between one and four points for the next eight minutes, before the Skyhawks were able to push their lead back to seven (48-41) on a Cole dunk with 7:39 to play following a Hamor three-pointer. A Smith three-pointer gave Stonehill its largest lead of the second half at nine points (54-45) with 4:36 remaining.

Stonehill would have to hang tough again as that proved to be its final field goal of the day. Williams brought Pace back within five (54-49) with a layup with 3:05 to play and then after two free-throws by Smith, junior Ahmad George (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Carroll) hit a three to pull the Setters within four (56-52) with 1:24 to go. Both teams split two free-throw attempts with 39-seconds left and then junior Kai Smith (Upper Marlboro, Md./St. Mary's Ryken) made two free-throws to cut the lead to two points (57-55) with 28-seconds to play.

Hamor was fouled and made both free-throws, but Primus-Devonish drilled a three-pointer to close the gap to a point (59-58) and Stonehill would have to weather two possessions in the final ten seconds as Markle split on two trips to the free-throw line. Pace couldn't take advantage, turning the ball over on its last two trips down the court, sealing the Skyhawks win.

Stonehill (10-9, 6-9 NE-10) is back in action on Wednesday when it visits Franklin Pierce University for an NE-10 clash at 7:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home next Saturday, February 9, to host Merrimack College at 3:30 p.m. Pace (9-10, 6-9 NE-10) visits American International College on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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Bentley Halts Stonehill, 66-63
February 23, 2013 Bentley Halts Stonehill, 66-63