Stonehill Ranked 23rd in USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II Poll

Junior Mary Louise Dixon ranks among NE-10 leaders for scoring, assists, free-throw percentage and minutes per game. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Skyhawks earn first national ranking in over three years with 10-1 start

EASTON, Mass. (January 8, 2013) – After a three year hiatus, the Stonehill College women's basketball team appears in the USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II Top 25 with a No. 23 national ranking in the first poll of the New Year released this afternoon.

Stonehill, among teams receiving votes in the last three weekly polls of 2012, appears in the WBCA's Top 25 for the first time since December, 2009, when the Skyhawks were ranked 21st nationally before falling out with an 8-4 overall record after back-to-back defeats to rival Bentley University (68-61) on December 8 and then 2nd-ranked Franklin Pierce University (77-66) on December 11. This season, the Skyhawks are off to a 10-1 start overall, including a 6-1 clip in the Northeast-10, and are tied for second in the Conference standings with an Assumption College team that is among teams receiving votes this week.

Stonehill, off to its best start since opening 13-1 in 2008-09, are among the best defensive and shooting teams in the Northeast-10 through the first 11 games. The Skyhawks rank fourth in the Conference for scoring defense (55.5 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.362), while leading the league in three-point shooting percentage defense (.248). Stonehill ranks sixth in the NE-10 for scoring offense (66.1 ppg), but lead the Conference in free-throw shooting (.769), rank second in field goal percentage (.427) and are third in three-point shooting percentage (.349). The Skyhawks are ranked 13th nationally in Division II for free-throw shooting percentage, 31st for scoring defense and sixth with 18.5 assists per game.

Junior captains Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) and Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) have led the Stonehill resurgence this season for a team with no seniors on the roster. Dixon is averaging a team-best 12.9 points (14th NE-10), 5.6 assists (3rd) and 1.3 steals in a team-high 33.2 minutes per game (7th), while also ranking third on the team with 5.7 rebounds per contest. She also ranks third in the Conference for free-throw shooting percentage, converting 86.3-percent (44-for-51) of her attempts, while also shooting 41.9-percent from the field. Dixon is ranked 13th nationally in Division II for assists per game

Ewing is contributing 11 points and six rebounds per game, ranking second on the team, adding two assists per contest. Sophomore Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) is adding 12.3 points per game (16th NE-10) off the bench on 47.3-percent shooting (13th), including a team-best 41.5% (27-for-65) from three-point range (4th), while classmate Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) is registering 11.4 points on 52.5% shooting from the field (6th), converting 73.9% (17-23) of her free-throws, to go with a team-high 8.1 rebounds (7th) and Conference-best 1.6 blocked shots per game.

Six different players have led Stonehill in scoring through 11 games so far this season. The Skyhawks are 6-0 at home and 4-1 away from Merkert Gymnasium, with the lone loss of the season a 66-50 setback at No. 2-ranked Bentley University on December 8.

Stonehill (10-1, 6-1 NE-10) will take its national ranking into tomorrow night's NE-10 matchup at the University of New Haven at 5:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home for the first time in 42 days on Saturday to host The College of Saint Rose in Merkert Gymnasium at 1:30 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter and Facebook. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks mobile app on iTunes and the Android Market.