Franklin Pierce Rallies by Stonehill, 77-76

Senior Jack Cole posted a double-double for the second straight night. (PHOTO BY Paul W. Fitzgerald Photography)

Vilmont keys comeback with 17 second half points, six three-pointers 

EASTON, Mass. (November 25, 2014) – Franklin Pierce University overcame a 14 point second half deficit to hand Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll, its first loss of the season with a 77-76 decision in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Senior Ryen Vilmont (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania/Hamden) scored 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to key the Franklin Pierce comeback effort as he made 7-of-13 shots from the field, including 6-for-10 from three-point range (4-for-4 second half), and converting all four free-throw attempts, with a team-high eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot. Junior Tyler Iacuone (Mahopac, New York/Archbishop Stepinac) added 16 points, including the winning free-throw with 0.7-seconds remaining in regulation to provide the difference. He made 6-of-13 shots from the field, including 3-for-7 from deep, with three rebounds.

Senior Paul Becklens (Boston, Massachusetts/Roxbury CC) contributed 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 2-for-5 from beyond the arc, four rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Sophomore Donte Gittens (Hartford, Connecticut/The Master's School) rounded out the Ravens double-figure scorers with 13 points, three boards (all offensive) and four assists.

Senior Jack Cole (New Providence, New Jersey/New Providence) posted his second straight double-double (18th career) to lead Stonehill with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting, a game-high ten rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and a steal. Junior Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) added 20 points on a white-hot 6-for-8 shooting from three-point range, converting both free-throw attempts to go with four rebounds and five assists. Sophomore Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) contributed 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while junior Daniel Brix (Monroe Township, New Jersey/St. Joseph) chipped in ten points on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor and 2-of-2 at the line, off the bench.

Franklin Pierce took advantage of a 16-9 advantage in points off turnovers as Stonehill finished with 12 turnovers (eight second half), compared to seven for the Ravens. That helped the Ravens overcome a significant difference in shooting percentages as they shot 42.6-percent from the field (29-for-68) overall, including 48.6% (17-for-35) in the second half, compared to an event 50-percent shooting by Stonehill overall (28-for-56) and from three-point range (11-for-22). Franklin Pierce did drain 10-of-15 three-pointers (66.7%) three-pointers in the second half, while Stonehill connected on 4-of-7 (57.1%) over the final 20 minutes.

Junior Carter Smith drained 6-of-8 three-pointers on his way to 20 points. (PHOTO BY Paul W. Fitzgerald Photography)

Iacuone made one of two free-throws with 0.7-seconds left (missing the second intentionally) to lift Franklin Pierce, which trailed by as much as 14 in the second half, to the comeback win. Smith had knotted the score for the third time in the final four minutes of the game with a three-pointer with 39-seconds to go. The Ravens milked the clock down to 14-seconds before calling a timeout to set up a play. Cole blocked the shot by Becklens with less than five seconds on the clock and the shot clock expired, but the ball was ruled to have hit the rim and the Ravens were given another opportunity with an inbounds play under the basket. Iacuone broke to the basket late for the inbounds pass and was fouled with under a second left, sending him to the line.

Stonehill held its second 14 point lead of the second half (56-42) after two free-throws from Brix with 11:51 to play. The Skyhawks lead was still ten (57-47) after Cole made one of two at the free-throw line with 10:55 remaining and Franklin Pierce followed with back to back three-pointers by Iacuone and Gittens to close within four (57-53) with ten minutes to play.

Stonehill regained the ten point cushion (66-56) on a Cole layup with 7:15 left, but Franklin Pierce scored 11 straight points to take its first lead since the opening bucket of the game (67-66) on a Becklens triple with 5:17 to go. Vilmont scored eight of the 11 points, including back to back three's. Iacuone and Vilmont followed up buckets from Cole and Brix at the other side for a three-point lead (73-70) with 3:56 remaining. Smith knotted the score with a three ball with 2:36 on the clock before Vilmont added another three with 1:39 to play leading up to Smith's final tying three with 39-seconds to go.

After an opening three-pointer from Vilmont two minutes in, Stonehill caught fire with 12 straight points for a nine point lead after five minutes following back to back baskets from Brix. Smith gave the Skyhawks their first double-digit lead (15-5) with a three and then they pushed the lead to 14 (25-11) after another Carter bomb with 11:48 to play in the first half. Franklin Pierce cut the gap to nine (28-19) with two free-throws by senior Aboubacar Casse (Thies, Senegal) with 7:46 to go, but sophomore Jimmy Walsh (Manasquan, New York/Manasquan) answered with a three and then Smith hit another from long range to put the Skyhawks back up 13 (34-21) with 6:12 to play in the frame.

Back to back three's by freshman Dustin Cole (Standish, Maine/Bonny Eagle) and Vilmont pulled Franklin Pierce back within seven (36-29) at the half. Gittens and Becklens closed the gap to three (36-33) in the opening minute of the second half, but Stonehill used a 10-2 spurt to reclaim its double-digit lead (48-37) after a three-pointer from junior Adam Bramanti (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet Regional) less than five minutes into the half.

Stonehill (4-1, 2-1 NE-10) is back in action on Sunday when it visits Post University, in Waterbury, Connecticut, for a non-conference matchup at 3:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home on Wednesday, December 10, to host Saint Anselm College at 7:30 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter and Facebook. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks mobile app on iTunes and the Android Market.