Seniors Lift Stonehill Past Southern N.H., 71-62

Senior Emily Rousseau's team-high 25 points are a her high since returning from injury and led the Skyhawks to a big win over SNHU this afternoon. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

Rousseau and McWhirter combine for 43 for Skyhawks Senior Day win

EASTON, Mass. (February 19, 2011) – Stonehill College pulled away late to claim a 71-62 victory over Southern New Hampshire University in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at Merkert Gymnasium this afternoon.

Seniors Emily Rousseau (Biddeford, Maine/Biddeford) and Kristen McWhirter (Melvin Village, N.H./New Hampton Prep) combined for 43 points to lead Stonehill to its second-straight win. Rousseau finished with 25 points (16 second half), on 9-of-22 shooting from the field while converting all five free-throw attempts, to go with five rebounds, four assists and two steals. McWhirter added 18 points, shooting 5-for-14 overall and converting 6-of-8 free-throw attempts, and seven boards. Sophomore Anna Griffin (Fairfax, Va./W.T. Woodson) contributed 13 points in 15 minutes off the bench as she made 5-of-7 shots from the field and converted all three free-throw attempts to go with three rebounds. Freshman Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.

Grad student Julia Houghtaling (Franconia, N.H./New Hampton Prep) posted a double-double with game-highs of 26 points and ten rebounds (five offensive) with two steals as she made 10-of-16 shots from the field and converted 6-of-10 free-throws. Sophomore Michelle DeRoma (West Roxbury, Mass./Mount Alvernia) added 13 points, five rebounds and two assists, while junior Christine Duffy (South Boston, Mass./Archbishop Williams) chipped in eight points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Stonehill finished shooting 38.5-percent (25-for-65) from the field, including 45.2% (14-31) in the second half to pull away, converting 17-of-23 (73.9%) free-throw attempts. The Skyhawks posted a 43-34 rebounding to aid in an 18-9 edge in second chance points, while outscoring SNHU 23-9 for points off turnovers. Stonehill's bench also produced a 19-5 scoring advantage. That all helped overcome 43.4-percent (23-for-53) shooting by Southern New Hampshire, including 7-for-15 from three-point range (4-7/57.1% second half).

Senior Kristen McWhirter added 18 points and seven rebounds. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Stonehill pulled away late in a second half that featured 21 of the game's 26 lead changes and four of seven ties. Southern New Hampshire held a one point lead (56-55) after two free-throws by senior Magdala Johnson (Sandown, N.H./Timberlane) with 5:59 to play. A layup by junior Tania Williams (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward-Melville) put Stonehill back in front for good and sparked an 11-2 run that extended the Skyhawks lead to eight (66-58) on two Rousseau free-throws with 1:53 to play. McWhirter had four points for the Skyhawks during that run. Stonehill's extended the run to 15-4 and extend the lead to a game-high ten (70-60) with a McWhirter free-throw with 46-seconds left to seal the victory.

Stonehill struggled to find its shooting touch early, missing 11 of its first 12 shots from the field, in falling behind by six (10-4) four and a half minutes into the contest. The Skyhawks rallied to knot the score at 10-10 on a Rousseau layup with 12:27 to play in the half, but Southern New Hampshire regained a five point cushion (16-11) after a Houghtaling layup with 9:01 remaining. The Skyhawks posted a 14-4 run over the next eight minutes to reverse the lead (25-20) on a Rousseau three 1:55 before halftime. The Penmen closed out the half with a 9-3 spurt to take a one-point advantage (29-28) into the lockerroom after a DeRoma three with 31-seconds left.

Houghtaling opened the second half with a layup to push the SNHU lead to three (31-28), but that would prove to be the largest lead for either team over the next 14 minutes of back and forth play before Stonehill pulled away in the final five minutes for the win.

With the results of today's games in the NE-10, Stonehill remains in a tie for seventh in the Conference standings with Saint Michael's College (14-10, 12-9 NE-10) heading into the final game of the season. The teams are locked into seventh or eighth for the upcoming NE-10 tournament depending on the results of Wednesday's contests.

Stonehill (17-9, 12-9 NE-10) closes out the regular season on Wednesday when it hosts rival Bentley University, ranked 17th nationally, for an NE-10 matchup in Merkert Gym at 5:30 p.m. The Skyhawks will host an NE-10 first round game on Sunday, February 27, at 1 p.m. Southern New Hampshire (10-15, 8-13 NE-10) looks to seal a postseason berth on Wednesday when it hosts Merrimack College at 5:30 p.m.