Stonehill Tops Dowling in Opener, 57-48

Senior co-captain Kristen McWhirter scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the second half in today's win over Dowling. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr) 

McWhirter and Williams lead Skyhawks past Golden Lions in second half

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (November 13, 2010) – Stonehill College opened its 2010-11 season with a 57-48 victory over Dowling College in women's basketball action on day one of the Northeast-10/East Coast Conference Challenge, hosted by Molloy College, at Quealy Gymnasium today.

Senior co-captain Kristen McWhirter (Melvin Village, N.H./New Hampton Prep) led the way for Stonehill as she scored 14 of her game-high 16 points in the second half to help the Skyhawks break away in the second half. She made 5-of-11 shots from the field and converted 5-of-6 free-throws to go with seven rebounds and two assists.

Junior Tania Williams (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward Melville) was the only other Skyhawk in double-figures with ten points and a team-best eight rebounds (four offensive) with two steals. Classmate Cori O'Kane (Pocasset, Mass./Cardinal Spellman) contributed nine points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals, while senior co-captain Emily Rousseau (Biddeford, Maine/Biddeford) chipped in eight points and two assists.

Junior Cori O'Kane contributed nine points, four rebounds and four assists. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Sophomore Seja Gamble (Newport News, Va./Woodside) led Dowling with 16 points as she made 7-of-12 shots from the field to go with six rebounds. Junior Kelly Puwalski (Queens, N.Y./Mary Louis Academy) made 3-of-7 three-pointers on her way to ten points and six rebounds, while classmate Sarah Schicher (Vienna, Austria) grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and blocked six shots to go with six points.

Stonehill overcame a 30.5-percent (18-for-59) shooting performance from the field, including 3-for-17 (17.6%) from three-point range, by converting 18-of-22 (81.8%) of its free-throw attempts. The Skyhawks also took good care of the ball with just 11 turnovers, compared to 19 for Dowling. The Golden Lions shot 32.7% (18-55) from the field, including 4-for-15 (26.7%) from three-point range, but made only 8-of-16 (50%) free-throws and out-rebounded the Skyhawks 43-35.

The teams were tied at 20 apiece at halftime after neither team shot 30-percent from the field in the opening half. Dowling scored the first two baskets of the second half to regain the lead after a Schicher layup, but Stonehill drew within one (26-25) after a layup from senior Amanda Smith (Penacook, N.H./Merrimack Valley) and took the lead (27-26) with two Williams free-throws with 15:20 left.

McWhirter followed with a three-pointer to put Stonehill up four (30-26) with 14:45 left, but Dowling forced the games fourth tie with two free-throws by sophomore Nora Bahgat (Cheshire, Conn./Cheshire). The Skyhawks gained a five-point lead (37-32) with two McWhirter free-throws with 9:18 left, but the Golden Lions responded with six-straight points to regain the lead (38-37) after a three by Puwalski with 7:54 remaining.

Stonehill responded with a 7-0 spurt to take a six-point lead (44-38) after a McWhirter layup with 5:34 left. Dowling was within four (50-46) with 1:05 on the clock, but the Skyhawks seven of its last eight free-throws from there, four from Rousseau, to seal the victory.

Dowling scored the first seven points of the contest and led by six (12-6) after a jumper from freshman Julia Koppl (Innsbrook, Austria) with 12:17 left in the half. Stonehill responded with a 9-2 run over the next seven minutes to take its first lead (15-14) after an O'Kane three with 5:48 left in the frame. The Golden Lions led by two (20-18) after a Schicher layup with 2:40 remaining, but Williams made a layup with 1:51 to go that sent the game into halftime even.

Stonehill (1-0, 0-0 NE-10) is right back in action tomorrow when it faces host Molloy on day two of the NE-10/ECC Challenge at 3 p.m. Molloy dropped a 73-61 decision to 14th-ranked Franklin Pierce University in today's second game. The Skyhawks home opener will be Wednesday when it hosts Franklin Pierce in Merkert Gym to open NE-10 play at 5:30 p.m. Dowling (0-1, 0-0 ECC) will face the Ravens tomorrow at 1 p.m.