Stonehill Rebounds Against Merrimack, 76-61

Senior Kristen McWhirter scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half, adding six rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

McWhirter and Dixon lead the way for Skyhawks for key NE-10 win

EASTON, Mass. (February 8, 2011) – Stonehill College, ranked eighth in the NCAA Division II East Regional rankings, got back on the winning track with a 76-61 victory over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Senior Kristen McWhirter (Melvin Village, N.H./New Hampton Prep) scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half to go with six rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. Freshman Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) notched her third double-double of the season with 19 points and a season-best 11 rebounds with two blocks and two steals, while classmate Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) pulled down a game-high ten rebounds (six offensive) to go with nine points and two steals. Sophomore Anna Griffin (Fairfax, Va./W.T. Woodson) chipped in ten points and four boards off the bench. Junior Tania Williams (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward-Melville) contributed eight points and seven rebounds and classmate Cori O'Kane (Pocasset, Mass./Cardinal Spellman) dished out a career-best ten assists.

Junior Gennifer Roy (Granby, Mass./Granby) led Merrimack with 19 points, shooting 8-for-16 from the field, including 3-for-7 from three-point range, and four rebounds. Sophomore Kelly Schatzlein (Tolland, Mass./Tolland) added 15 points, shooting 7-for-11 from the field, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Senior Sarah Benischek (Shrub Oak, N.Y./Lakeland) chipped in seven points, six boards, four assists and two steals.

Freshman Mary Louise Dixon posted her third double-double of the year with 19 points and season-best 11 rebounds. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Stonehill shot 40.3-percent from the field on the night and dominated the glass with a 48-31 rebounding advantage, pulling down 18 offensive boards to produce a 17-6 edge in second chance points. The Skyhawks also finished with a 17-7 break in points off turnovers and outscored Merrimack 20-10 at the free-throw line. Merrimack shot 38.3-percent from the field, including 5-for-19 (26.3%) from three point range.

Stonehill never trailed, but needed to withstand a handful of Merrimack rallies to snap a string of back-to-back losses. The Skyhawks scored the first 14 points of the contest, sparked by three-pointers from Williams and O'Kane, over the first five minutes. Merrimack ended its drought with a Roy jumper 5:17 into the game and closed within six (14-8) after a Roy three with 12:22 remaining in the half.

Stonehill reeled off a 10-0 run to open a 17 point lead (27-10) with 7:17 left before halftime after two-straight Dixon layups. Merrimack closed the gap to seven again at halftime (34-27), closing the frame with a 10-0 run of its own. Schatzlein and senior Taneka Brown (Lynn, Mass./Lynn Classical) opened the second half with baskets to pull the Warriors within three (34-31) a minute and a half in.

Leading by four (37-33), Stonehill started to pull away with a 16-5 run to open a 15 point gap (53-38) after another Williams three with 9:14 left. Merrimack was able to close its deficit to ten points on two occasions and 11 one other time, but the Skyhawks didn't let it any closer, with McWhirter drilling a key three-pointer with 2:40 to play and the team made eight of its last nine free-throws in the final 1:49 to seal the victory.

Stonehill (15-8, 10-8 NE-10) returns to action on Saturday when it visits Saint Michael's College for an NE-10 matchup at 1:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home the following Saturday, February 19, to host Southern New Hampshire University at 1:30 p.m. Merrimack (10-11, 8-9 NE-10) travels to Saint Michael's Thursday for a makeup game at 5:30 p.m.