UMass Lowell Holds Off Stonehill, 76-72

Sophomore Mary Louise Dixon matched her season-high with 23 points, but the Skyhawks fell to UMass Lowell tonight. (PHOTO BY Gil Talbot)

Wilson's 23 points leads River Hawks to first NE-10 win

EASTON, Mass. (November 30, 2011) – The University of Massachusetts Lowell notched its first conference win of the season with a 76-72 victory over Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Junior Brianna Wilson (Lowell, Mass./Lowell) led three UMass Lowell players in double-figures with 23 points as she made 10-of-19 shots from the field and converted 3-of-4 free-throws to go with three rebounds, three steals and two assists. Senior Sha'nay Bushner (Akron, Ohio/Kenmore) added 11 points, a game-high nine rebounds (five offensive), three steals and two assists, while sophomore Danielle DePierro (Tewksbury, Mass./Tewksbury Memorial) finished with ten points.

Sophomore Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) matched her season-high with 23 points for Stonehill, shooting 8-for-13 from the field, including 3-of-4 from three-point range, while converting 4-of-5 free-throws, to go with five rebounds and two assists. Classmate Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) added 14 points, shooting 6-for-11 from the field, draining her lone three-point and free-throw attempts, and a team-high matching seven rebounds. Senior Tania Williams (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward-Melville) contributed nine points, seven boards (four offensive) and three steals, while freshman Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) chipped in nine points, seven boards, two assists and two blocks in 22 minutes off the bench.

UMass Lowell finished shooting 50-percent (31-for-62) from the field, including 52% (13-25) in the opening half, while converting just 10-of-15 (66.7%) free-throws. The River Hawks enjoyed a 31-17 advantage in points off turnovers, taking advantage of 23 giveaways for Stonehill, while turning the ball over 17 times themselves. Stonehill posted a 35-33 rebounding edge, but UML outscored the Skyhawks 17-9 in second chance points.

Sophomore Asia Ewing added 14 points and seven rebounds tonight. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Stonehill shot 60-percent (15-for-25) from the field in the second half, after converting at just 35.5% (11-13) in the opening frame, to finish shooting 46.4% (26-56) for the night. The Skyhawks converted 6-of-13 (46.2%) three-pointers, including 3-for-4 (75%) in the second half, and made 14-of-18 (77.8%) free-throws, with the turnovers proving costly.

UMass Lowell built double-digit leads early in each half and held off Stonehill rallies down the stretch in each frame to pull out the win. The River Hawks led by ten (12-2) after a three-pointer from junior Erika Sjoberg (Stockholm, Sweden) 4:19 into the contest. Stonehill drew even at 14-14 after a three-ball from sophomore Abbey Lalime (Orleans, Vt./Lake Region Union) with 11:13 left in the half.

UMass Lowell worked its lead back to five (27-22) following a Bushner layup with 3:24 left, but Stonehill drew even (27-27) after a put back from Faieta with 2:04 left, and then took its first lead (28-27) when Dixon made one of two at the line with 1:24 remaining. However, UMass Lowell took the lead into the lockerroom on Wilson's jumper with 1:16 to play.

UMass Lowell quickly regained a nine point advantage (41-32) after layup from junior Brianna Calver (Shelby, Ohio/Shelby) less than four minutes into the second half. The River Hawks worked the lead up to a game-high 12 (51-39) after another layup from Calver with 11:54 remaining.

Stonehill drew back within five (51-46) at the midway point of the half after back to back jumpers from Williams, but UMass Lowell quickly regained an 11 point cushion (59-48) with a three-point play from Bushner with 7:45 remaining.

Stonehill rallied again, pulling even for the fourth time (61-61) with a pair of free-throws by freshman Jamie Panton (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) with 5:05 to play, taking advantage of getting into the bonus with five and a half minutes to play. UMass Lowell held strong, however, and pushed its lead back to five (67-62) after a Bushner put back with 3:42 remaining.

Faieta scored a layup to draw Stonehill within two (69-67) with 2:16 left, but UMass Lowell pushed the lead back to seven (74-67) after two free-throws by junior Bianca Simmons (Middletown, Conn./Mercy) with 14-seconds on the clock. Simmons free-throws came at the end of a series of three-straight offensive rebounds for UML off missed free-throws as Stonehill put the River Hawks on the line to extend the game.

Dixon broke a two-minute scoring drought for Stonehill with a jumper with eight seconds on the clock and then buried a three off a UMass Lowell turnover with four seconds left to pull the Skyhawks within two (74-72), but junior Sarah Bennett (Newark, Ohio/Newark) iced it with two free-throws with half a second left after the River Hawks were able to inbounds the ball.

Stonehill (4-3, 1-3 NE-10) returns to action on Saturday when it visits Saint Michael's College at 1:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home next Tuesday, December 6, to host Southern New Hampshire University for an NE-10 clash at 5:30 p.m. UMass Lowell (2-4, 1-3 NE-10) hosts Merrimack College on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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