NE-10 QUARTERFINAL: American International Holds Off Stonehill, 68-63

Senior Jack Cole led the Skyhawks with 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists. (PHOTO BY Paul W. Fitzgerald Photography)

Porter's game-high 25 points leads Yellow Jackets into semifinals 

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (March 1, 2015) – Southwest Division No. 2-seed American International College battled its way to a 68-63 triumph over Northeast No. 3 Stonehill College in quarterfinal round action of the 2015 Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball tournament at Butova Gymnasium this afternoon.

American International (21-6, 15-5 NE-10) advances to Wednesday's semifinal round where it will visit Northeast Division Champions Southern New Hampshire University (21-6, 17-4 NE-10) at 7 p.m. The Penmen rolled to a 97-65 win over Northeast No. 5 Merrimack College in their quarterfinal matchup. Stonehill (19-9, 14-7 NE-10), ranked seventh in this week's NCAA Division II East Regional rankings, now puts its NCAA Tournament fate in the hands of the regional advisory committee next Sunday when the Division II field of 64 is announced.

Senior Marcus Porter (New Castle, Delaware/Howard) led four American International players in double-figures with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, draining his lone three-point attempt, and converting 4-of-5 free-throws to go with four rebounds, four assists, a blocked shot and steal. Junior Trahmier Burrell (Albany, New York/Troy) added 13 points and a game-high matching eight rebounds, connecting on 5-of-9 shots from the floor and all three free-throw attempts, while senior Bobby Harris (Berlin, New Jersey/Eastern) contributed 12 points, six assists, three boards and three steals. Junior Cameron Dobbs (Albany, New York/Guilderland) chipped in 12 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Senior Jack Cole (New Providence, New Jersey/New Providence) paced Stonehill with 18 points and a game-high matching eight rebounds with five assists and a blocked shot, shooting 8-for-11 from the floor, converting his lone three-pointer and free-throw. Sophomore Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) added 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 1-for-2 from three-point distance and at the line, with six rebounds and six assists. Junior Daniel Brix (Monroe Township, New Jersey/St. Joseph) contributed ten points on 4-of-5 shooting, three assists and two boards, while classmate Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) chipped in nine points, connecting on 3-of-9 three-pointers, with four rebounds (three offensive), two assists and two steals.

American International took advantage of 18 Stonehill turnovers to post an 18-11 edge in points off turnovers, including a 10-0 margin in the second half, in a contest in which there was little statistical difference between the two teams. The Yellow Jackets, who finished shooting 48.1-percent (26-for-54) from the field, outscored the Skyhawks 10-4 at the free-throw line, converting 10-of-13 (76.9-percent) tries compared to 4-for-5 (80%) for the visitors. Stonehill shot 49-percent (25-for-51) from the floor, including 60.9% (14-23) in the second half, connecting on 9-of-27 (33.3%) three-pointers. The Yellow Jackets made 6-of-20 (40%) threes and Stonehill held a 30-24 rebounding edge.

Sophomore Ryan Logan posted 12 points, six rebounds and six assists. (PHOTO BY Paul W. Fitzgerald)

American International trailed by as much as seven in the opening half before carrying a two point lead (29-27) into halftime. The Yellow Jackets opened the second half with a 13-4 run to take their first double figure lead of the contest (42-31) following a layup by senior Al-Shabazz Jabateh (East Orange, New Jersey/Milton Hershey) after five minutes.

Stonehill's deficit was still ten (47-37) after a Dobbs three-pointer with 12:40 to play when it scored 11 straight points to reclaim the lead (48-47) after a three-point play by Cole with 9:48 remaining. Smith and junior Pierce Cumpstone (Bainbridge Township, Ohio/Kenston) each buried triples to spark the Skyhawks run.

Harris answered with a three-point play at the other end for AIC and after Logan knotted the score for the sixth time (50-50) with nine minutes remaining, the Yellow Jackets forged a four point cushion (56-52) on a Dobbs three with 6:54 to go. Dobbs gave the Yellow Jackets a five point lead (60-55) with a layup with 4:39 left and then Burrell converted a three-point play for a six point margin (63-57) with 3:48 to play.

Logan scored on a tip-in and then connected from downtown to pull Stonehill back within a point (63-62) with 2:41 still to play, but that would be as close as the Skyhawks would get the rest of the way. Porter followed with two free-throws at the other end and then after Logan made just one of two at the line, Burrell gave the Yellow Jackets a four point cushion (67-63) with 1:28 to go. Stonehill turned the ball over three times in the closing minute to seal its fate as Harris provided the final margin (69-63) with one of two free-throws with six seconds left.

Stonehill scored the first six points of the contest behind three-pointers by Smith and junior Adam Bramanti (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet) in the opening two minutes before AIC got on the board with a Burrell layup four minutes in. Cole's lone three-pointer of the game put the Skyhawks up seven (9-2) four and a half minutes into the game. The Yellow Jackets scored seven straight to pull even (11-11) for the first time after a Harris layup with 12 minutes to play in the half.

Bramanti and Smith put Stonehill back up six (19-13) with a pair of three-pointers, but AIC followed with a 9-2 spurt to take a six point lead (27-21) on a Porter layup with three minutes remaining in the half.

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