Stonehill Posts Last Second Win Over Merrimack, 58-56

Freshman Josh Heyliger's putback as time expired lifted the Skyhawks to a huge late season win over Merrimack (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Heyliger tip-in at the buzzer caps Skyhawks comeback win

EASTON, Mass. (February 10, 2013) – Freshman Josh Heyliger's (Bear, Del./The Hill School) tip-in at the buzzer lifted Stonehill College to a key 58-56 triumph over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Heyliger's tip-in capped a Stonehill comeback from a nine point (49-40) deficit with six minutes to play and an eight point margin (51-43) with five and a half minutes remaining. He scored all six of his points in the comeback, including four in the final 35-seconds. Senior Brian Hamor (Schenectady, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) led the Skyhawks with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, converting 2-of-3 free-throws to go with five rebounds. Classmate Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa./Crestwood) added 11 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Jack Cole (New Providence, N.J./New Providence) grabbed a team-best ten rebounds (seven offensive) to go with eight points and season-high five blocked shots.

The win puts Stonehill in a tie with The College of Saint Rose for the tenth place in the NE-10 standings. The Skyhawks own the head to head tiebreaker with the Golden Knights, meaning they would receive the final spot in the upcoming NE-10 Tournament. Stonehill and Saint Rose are a game behind Le Moyne College and two games behind a three team pack of UMass Lowell, Adelphi University and Southern New Hampshire. Merrimack and Pace University now trail Stonehill and Saint Rose by a game.

Senior Mike Clifford (Danvers, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) posted a double-double to lead Merrimack with game-highs of 26 points and 14 rebounds (eight offensive), three blocks and two steals, shooting 13-for-18 from the field. Freshman Gelvis Solano (New York, N.Y./Health Professions) added 12 points, seven boards, three blocks and two steals.

Senior Brian Hamor led the Skyhawks with 14 points and five rebounds. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Stonehill finished shooting 35-percent (21-for-60) from the field, including 5-for-22 (22.7%) from three-point range, but converted 11-of-12 (91.7%) free-throws. The Skyhawks registered a 17-7 advantage in points off turnovers, including 10-0 in the first half then they turned the ball over just three times. Merrimack shot 40-percent (26-for-65) from the field, including 41.5% (17-41) in the second half, but was just 3-for-12 (25%) from deep and made only 1-of-9 (11.1%) free-throws. The Warriors held a 48-37 rebounding advantage, including 20 offensive boards, resulting in an 18-13 edge in second chance points.

Despite the rebounding edge, Heyliger's winning basket came off a second offensive rebound after Cole collected an off-balance three-pointer from senior Sam Markle (Branford, Conn./Saint Thomas More) and missed a layup on the right side that Heyliger touched in as the buzzer sounded.

Stonehill trailed by nine (49-40) with 6:03 remaining when Clifford capped a run of six straight points and eight during a 13-0 Merrimack run. The Warriors lead was still eight (51-43) following another Clifford basket with 5:27 remaining when the Skyhawks score the next nine points to regain the lead (52-51) after a second straight three by Hamor with 1:41 to play.

Solano answered with a triple at the other end, but Fazzini forced a deadlock (54-54) with 1:02 on the clock. After a Merrimack turnover, Heyliger was fouled after a Cole steal and converted both free-throws to put Stonehill back in front (56-54) with 35-seconds to play. Solano knotted the score again with a leaner in the lane with 24-seconds left, giving the Skyhawks the final possession.

Stonehill staked out an early six point (12-6) lead after a three-pointer from freshman Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) with 12:44 left in the first half. Merrimack scored the next seven points to take its first lead (13-12) after a jumper from freshman Troy Hammel (Valencia, Calif./Valencia) with 9:34 to play in the half. The Skyhawks responded with nine straight points of their own to take an eight point lead (21-13) after a Fazzini layup with 5:22 remaining in the half.

Stonehill held that eight point lead at the break (27-19), but Merrimack scored the first nine points of the second half to take the lead back (28-27) on a Solano free-throw less than three minutes in. After the teams traded baskets over the next five minutes, Stonehill was able to work a four point advantage (40-36) after a jumper from freshman Pierce Cumpstone (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Kenston) midway through the half. Merrimack answered with its 13 point run to open its largest lead (49-40) with 6:03 to go.

Stonehill (11-10, 7-10 NE-10) is back in action at Merkert Gym on Wednesday night when it hosts the University of Massachusetts Lowell for an NE-10 matchup at 7:30 p.m. Merrimack (9-13, 6-11 NE-10) visits 15th-ranked Saint Anselm College on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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