Stonehill Hangs On Against Caldwell, 65-59

Junior Carter Smith scored a game-high 19 points to lead four double-figure scorers for the Skyhawks today. (PHOTO BY Paul Fitzgerald Photography)

Smith leads four in double-figures with game-high 19 points 

WORCESTER, Mass. (November 16, 2014) – Stonehill College led by as much as 15 points early in the second half and then held off Caldwell University the rest of the way to claim a 65-59 victory on day two of the 2014 Northeast-10/CACC Challenge, hosted by Assumption College, in non-conference men's basketball action at Laska Gymnasium this afternoon.

Junior Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) led four Stonehill players in double figures with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, while converting 4-of-5 free-throw attempts to go with three rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Three teammates contributed ten points apiece, with senior Jack Cole (New Providence, New Jersey/New Providence) making all five of his shots from the field for his ten points to go with three offensive rebounds and three blocked shots. Junior Josh Heyliger (Queens, New York/The Hill School) scored his ten points, aided by 4-for-4 shooting at the free-throw line, with three rebounds, while classmate Adam Bramanti (Middletown, Massachusetts/Masconomet) shot 4-for-7 from the field, including 2-for-5 from beyond the arc, with two rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and a steal. Sophomore Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds for the Skyhawks.

Stonehill shot 49-percent (25-for-51) from the field, including 50% (11-of-22) in the second half, connecting on 6-of-21 (28.6%) three-pointers and converting 9-of-12 (75%) free-throws. Caldwell overcame 27.3% (6-22) shooting in the first half to shoot at 46.2% (12-26) in the second to finish at 37.5% (18-48) overall, including 4-for-16 (25%) from long distance, while going 19-for-24 (79.2%) from the free-throw line. The Skyhawks held a 32-30 rebounding edge, but the Cougars outscored them 19-4 for second chance points, while Stonehill outscored Caldwell 17-8 in points off turnovers.

Junior Josh Heyliger added ten points for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Paul Fitzgerald Photography)

Senior Kevin Walker (Bayonne, New Jersey/St. Peter's Prep) led Caldwell with 17 points, shooting 6-for-11 from the floor, including 1-for-2 from three, while converting all four free-throw attempts to go with six rebounds and two assists. Classmate Michael Balkovic (Neptune, New Jersey/St. John Vianney) posted a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, while junior Billy McDonald (North Haven, Connecticut/North Haven) contributed ten points and two boards.

Caldwell held the early advantage with an 11-6 lead after a pair of McDonald free-throws six and a half minutes into the game. Stonehill reeled off a 16-0 run over the next seven minutes to open an 11 point lead (22-11) on a Bramanti three-pointer with 6:34 to play in the opening half. Bramanti scored five points in all during the stretch, while Smith canned a three-pointer to give the Skyhawks the lead and Cole followed with a dunk.

Caldwell closed within seven three times over the remainder of the half, but Stonehill scored the final four points of the stanza to carry an 11 point lead (32-21) into halftime after a jumper at the buzzer from Heyliger. Smith opened the second half with a three pointer to put the Skyhawks up 14 (35-21) a minute in and then pushed the lead to a game-high 15 (44-29) on a Bramanti triple 3:40 into the half.

Caldwell scored 13 straight points to cut the gap to two points (44-42) with 10:58 to play on a three-pointer from junior Salvatore Vitello (Bridgewater, New Jersey/Bridgewater-Raritan). Stonehill responded by scoring the next nine points to regain an 11 point advantage (53-42) after a three-point play by junior Daniel Brix (Monroe Township, New Jersey/St. Joseph) with 7:06 to play. The Skyhawks stretched their lead to 14 points (61-47) on a Smith triple with 4:18 remaining, but the Cougars wouldn't go away quietly.

Stonehill missed three front ends on one and one free-throw chances and two shots from the field to allow Caldwell to crawl back within five (61-56) after a Balkovic layup with 19-seconds left. However, Heyliger and Smith both converted a pair of free-throw tries the rest of the way to seal the Skyhawks victory.

Stonehill (2-0, 0-0 NE-10) returns to action on Wednesday when it visits Merrimack College for its Northeast-10 Conference opener in North Andover, Massachusetts, at 7:30 p.m. The Skyhawks home opener is Tuesday, November 25, when they host Franklin Pierce University for a Northeast-10 Conference matchup at 7:30 p.m. Caldwell (1-1, 0-0 CACC) hosts Molloy College on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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