ELITE AGAIN! Men's Basketball Captures Third Regional Championship in 10 Years, 82-76 (OT)

Senior Carter Smith earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the East Regional and paced the Skyhawks with 25 points tonight. (PHOTO BY Tom Weishaar)

Smith earns Regional Most Outstanding Player honors, leads Skyhawks with 25 points including tying layup in regulation, go-ahead basket in OT

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (March 15, 2016) – Fourth-seeded Stonehill College battled past second-seeded Saint Anselm College for its third regional title in the last ten years with an 82-76 overtime triumph in the 2016 NCAA Division II East Regional Championship, hosted by Holy Family University, at Campus Center Gymnasium tonight.

Stonehill (24-8, 15-6 NE-10) advances to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the third time in program history with the third regional crown, which will be played in Frisco, Texas, March 23-16. Stonehill, which has received the No. 5-seed for the Elite Eight after tonight's seeding of the final eight teams, will face fourth-seeded West Liberty University (30-3, 20-3 Mountain East) on Wedneday, March 23, at Dr. Pepper Arena at 3:30 p.m. (EDT). The Hilltoppers reached the Elite Eight with an 85-64 victory over Kutztown (Pa.) University in tonight's Atlantic Region Championship. Stonehill and West Liberty met at the 2012 Elite Eight in Highland Heights, Kentucky, with the Skyhawks claiming a 91-90 triumph to reach the national semifinals. Saint Anselm, competing in the regional final for the second time in three seasons, sees its bid for its first regional crown since 2000 come to an end at 23-8 overall, including 15-6 in Northeast-10 play.

Senior guard Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) led Stonehill to victory again and was named the East Regional's Most Outstanding Player, finishing tonight with a game-high 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-for-6 from three-point range, while converting 5-of-6 free-throws to go with three assists and two rebounds. After recording the game-winning layup to dispatch defending regional champions Southern New Hampshire University in overtime on Sunday night, Smith delivered a tying layup with 14-seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and then his layup with 34-seconds to play in in the extra period put the Skyhawks in front for good.

Junior Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) joined Smith on the East Regional All-Tournament team as he posted his 11th double-double of the season (20th career) with 18 points and ten rebounds to go with five assists and two steals as he made 6-of-13 shots from the floor, including 2-of-6 threes, and converted 4-of-6 free-throws. Sophomore Isaiah Bess (LaGrange, Maine/Hampden Academy) added 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting with five boards, while senior Adam Bramanti (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet Regional) rounded out the Skyhawks in double figures with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. Senior Pierce Cumpstone (Bainbridge Township, Ohio/Kenston) chipped in nine points, eight rebounds and two steals.

Junior Ryan Logan joined Smith on the All-Regional team and posted his 11th double-double of the season tonight. (PHOTO BY Tom Weishaar)

Junior Harrison Taggert (Wallingford, Vermont/Saint Paul's School), who was joined on the Regional All-Tournament team from Saint Anselm by senior Mike McCahey (Clarkstown, New York/Clarkstown South), led the Hawks with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 3-for-4 from three-point range, with nine rebounds and two assists. Junior Chris Braley (Newport, Maine/Phillips Exeter) notched a double-double for the Hawks with 14 points and ten rebounds (five offensive), while senior Victor Joshua (New Haven, Connecticut/Hamden Hall) added 14 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Freshman Tim Guers (Langhorne, Pennsylvania/Germantown Academy) rounded out the Hawks double-figure scorers with 12 points and five assists.

Stonehill emerged from a back and forth 45-minute battle that included 13 ties and an incredible 21 lead changes as neither team led by more than six points all night. In addition to its winning six point margin, the Skyhawks also held a pair of six point margins in the first half after a Cumpstone dunk with 5:27 left and a Bramanti layup with 4:19 on the clock.

Saint Anselm held a pair of five point leads in the second half, including after a Joshua layup (63-58) with 5:22 remaining in regulation. Stonehill answered that with nine straight points to take a four point lead (67-63) when Bramanti split two free-throws with 1:39 remaining after back to back three-pointers from Cumpstone to forge the 11th tie of the game and then Logan to push the Skyhawks back in front (66-63).

Guers drained a three to halt the run with 1:21 remaining and then Braley added a triple to put Saint Anselm back in front with 26-seconds left. Following a timeout, Smith forced overtime with a layup with 14-seconds to play and the Skyhawks weathered two Hawks attempts at the other end in the final seconds before heading to overtime  for the second straight game.

Bess opened overtime with a layup, but Taggert put Saint Anselm back in front with a three-pointer (72-71) just 40-seconds in. Logan pushed Stonehill back into the lead (73-72) with a jumper with 4:02 to play and then Bramanti made one of two at the line to give the Skyhawks a two point lead (74-72) with 2:29 on the clock. Taggert knotted the score (74-74) with a jumper with 1:32 remaining and then Smith's go-ahead layup came with 34-seconds remaining. Saint Anselm turned the ball over on its next possession and then Stonehill drained all six of its free-throws from there, including a pair from Smith, to seal the victory and trip to the Elite Eight.

The Elite Eight trip is the third for Stonehill head coach Chris Kraus '06, who helped lead the Skyhawks as a senior point guard in 2006 and was an assistant coach in 2012.

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