Merrimack Outlasts Stonehill in Triple-OT, 86-79

Senior Emily Rousseau led all scorers with 25 points to go with nine rebounds and two assists. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr) 

Colon double-double leads Warriors to victory

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (November 23, 2010) – Merrimack College shot nearly 53-percent in overtime to post an 86-79 triple overtime victory over Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II preseason poll, in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at Volpe Gymnasium tonight.

Merrimack shot 52.9-percent (9-for-17) from the field after regulation, including 3-for-5 (60%) from three-point range, while converting 9-of-12 (75%) free-throw attempts over the three overtime sessions. Stonehill finished shooting 34.6-percent (28-for-81) from the field, including 6-for-24 (25%) from deep, and converted just 65.4% (17-for-26) from the line for the night. The Skyhawks shot 20.7% (6-for-29) in overtime, including 2-for-11 (18.2%) from three. Merrimack turned Stonehill's 19 turnovers into a 21-8 advantage in points off turnovers.

Senior Tiffany Colon (Lawrence, Mass./Lawrence) led Merrimack with a double-double effort of 20 points and ten rebounds (five offensive), while classmate Sarah Benischek (Shrub Oak, N.Y./Lakeland) contributed 17 points, aided by 7-for-8 shooting at the line, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior Gennifer Roy (Granby, Mass./Granby) added 11 points, four rebounds (three offensive), three assists and three steals, while sophomore Kelly Schatzlein (Tolland, Conn./Tolland) rounded out the Warriors double-figure scorers with 11 points, four boards and two assists.

Senior Emily Rousseau (Biddeford, Maine/Biddeford) led Stonehill with a game-high 25 points, nine rebounds and two assists. She made all eight free-throw attempts to extend her streak of free-throws made this season to 21-straight. Classmate Kristen McWhirter (Melvin Village, N.H./New Hampton Prep) finished with 13 points and five rebounds, while junior Tania Williams (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward-Melville) added 11 points and eight rebounds. Junior Cori O'Kane (Pocasset, Mass./Cardinal Spellman) chipped in with nine points, a team-high ten rebounds and four assists before fouling out.

Junior Tania Williams added 11 points and eight rebounds. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Merrimack led the entire third overtime, scoring the first four points of the frame after a Benischek layup and free-throws from junior Valerie Avebe (Yaounde, Cameroon). Stonehill drew within two (73-71) after a pair of free-throws by freshman Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) with 3:23 left, but Colon drained a three-pointer and then followed two more Ewing free-throws with a layup before Roy drilled a three to put the Warriors up eight (81-73) with 1:14 remaining. McWhirter hit a three to pull the Skyhawks back within five (81-76), but Benischek drained four-straight free-throws to extend the lead to nine (85-76) with 29-seconds to go and seal the win.

Stonehill rallied from a ten point (46-36) deficit with 9:14 left in regulation to force overtime. The Skyhawks used a 14-4 run over the next five minutes to draw even (50-50) after two Rousseau free-throws with 4:25 to play. She had eight points in all during that stretch and O'Kane added a three-pointer and sophomore Anna Griffin (Fairfax, Va./W.T. Woodson) had a three-point play to help spark the rally.

The game went back and forth the rest of the way with Colon knotting the score at 56-56 with 1:45 left and neither team scored from there as Colon missed a layup at the buzzer to force overtime. Merrimack never trailed in the first overtime as a three-pointer from senior Chelsea Shea (South Burlington, Vt./Burlington) put the Warriors up three (61-58) with 3:05 to play. The lead was still three (63-60) after two Benischek free-throws with two minutes to go, before Stonehill forced a second extra frame as O'Kane hit one of two at the line and Williams followed up a miss with a jumper at the horn.

Stonehill held a three point lead (68-65) after two Rousseau free-throws midway through the second overtime, but Avebe scored back-to-back baskets to put Merrimack back in front (69-68) with 2:04 remaining. Ewing split a pair of free-throws with 1:02 to go that knotted the score for the 12th time in the game, but Rousseau had her layup with three-seconds left blocked to force the third and final extra period.

Stonehill (4-2, 0-2 NE-10) is back in action on Sunday when it hosts Saint Michael's College for an NE-10 matchup in Merkert Gymnasium at 1:30 p.m. Merrimack (2-2, 1-1 NE-10) is off until next Wednesday when it visits 14th-ranked Franklin Pierce University at 5:30 p.m.