NE-10 TOURNAMENT: #8 American International Tops #9 Stonehill, 71-65

Sophomore Mary Louise Dixon scored 19 of her game and season-best 24 points in the second half in tonight's NE-10 Tournament first round matchup. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Rebounding battle key as Yellow Jackets advance to face #6 Bentley

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (February 24, 2012) – Eighth-seeded American International College outrebounded ninth-seeded Stonehill College by ten on its way to a 71-65 victory in first round action of the 2012 Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at Butova Gymnasium tonight.

American International (13-14, 11-11 NE-10) advances to Sunday's quarterfinal round to face top-seeded and No. 6-ranked Bentley University (24-3, 20-2 NE-10), regular season champions of the NE-10, at 1 p.m. Stonehill sees its season close at 13-14 overall, 9-13 in NE-10 play, having finished in ninth place in the Conference standings.

Freshman Alyssa Roach (New Bedford, Mass./New Bedford) scored 16 of her team-high 21 points in the second half to lead American International as she made 3-of-6 three-pointers and converted 8-of-10 free-throws. She also dished five assists and added two steals and a blocked shot.

Senior Michelle Lafond (Holyoke, Mass./Holyoke) added 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting from deep, with five rebounds, while classmate Rhea Pascal (Pickering, Ontario/Notre Dame) contributed ten points, seven boards and two assists. Senior Lauren Griffith (Toronto, Ontario/Eastern Commerce) led a Yellow Jackets bench that outscored the Stonehill reserves 21-7 with ten points on 5-of-7 shooting and six rebounds.

Sophomore Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) scored 19 of her game and season-high 24 points in the second half for Stonehill as she made 9-of-15 shots from the field, including 5-for-11 from three-point range, and converted her lone free-throw attempt to go with seven assists and five rebounds.

Seniors Tania Williams (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward-Melville) and Priscilla Dodoo (Worcester, Mass./Burncoat) combined for 23 points in their final collegiate game to round out the double-figure scorers for the Skyhawks. Williams netted 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field to go with four rebounds and three assists, while Dodoo contributed 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, draining both three-point attempts, to go with a team-high seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Senior Priscilla Dodoo contributed 11 points and a game-high seven rebounds in her final collegiate game. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

American International finished with a 36-26 rebounding advantage that resulted in a 17-2 edge for second chance points. The bulk of that rebounding margin came in the first half when the Yellow Jackets out-rebounded Stonehill 23-11, with ten boards coming on the offensive end, while the Skyhawks had no offensive boards.

AIC shot 56-percent (14-for-25) in the second half, including 5-for-11 (45.5%) from three-point range, to finish at 41.1% (23-56) overall, while hitting 17-of-21 (81%) free-throws on the night. Stonehill shot slightly better at 44.1% (26-for-59) overall, including 10-for-21 (47.6%) from beyond the arc, but went to the line just six times, converting three (50%). The Skyhawks, who made 6-of-10 threes in the second half as part of 47.1% (16-34) shooting overall, finished with a modest 21-18 edge in points off turnovers.

With the game tied (37-37) with 12:13 left in regulation, American International used a 14-4 run over the next five minutes to open a ten point lead (51-41) after two free-throws from Roach with 7:31 remaining. The Yellow Jackets extended the lead to 11 (53-42) with a jumper from sophomore Erica Johnson (Cypress, Texas/Cypress Woods) with 6:55 on the clock and then a Roach three put AIC up a game-high 12 (56-44) with 6:07 to play.

Stonehill was able to draw back within five (59-54) on a three-pointer from freshman Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) with 2:40 remaining. AIC regained a nine point cushion (65-56) after two Roach free-throws with 1:29 left. While putting the hosts on the foul line, the Skyhawks were able to rally within five (67-62) with a Dixon three with 51-seconds on the clock and again (70-65) on a conventional three-point play by Dixon with 19-seconds left, but could get no closer as AIC did enough at the line, converting 7-of-8 in the final minute and a half, to keep Stonehill at bay.

Stonehill came out firing to start the game, scoring the first 11 points, keyed by three-pointers from Pelletier, Dodoo and Dixon over the opening five minutes. AIC responded with a run of its own, scoring the next 16 points to take a five point lead (16-11) with 1:42 left in the frame after back-to-back three-pointers by Lafond. Griffith also contributed six points during that stretch.

Stonehill scored six-straight from there to regain the lead (17-16) after a jumper by freshman Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) with 9:06 left. American International used a 9-2 run to take a six point lead (25-19) on a Roach three, but the Skyhawks scored the final six points over the last 3:31 of the half to go into the lockerroom even (25-25) after a three-pointer by sophomore Abbey Lalime (Orleans, Vt./Lake Region Union) and three points from Dodoo.

The teams traded baskets over the opening five and a half minutes of the second half before AIC worked a five point edge (37-32) on a three-point play from senior Marie Li Sicard (Montreal, Quebec/Dawson College) with 13:27 left. Dixon answered with a three at the other end and then Stonehill drew even for the last time (37-37) on a layup by Lalime with 12:13 remaining before the Yellow Jackets made their deciding run.

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