#14 Stonehill Fights Past Merrimack, 67-55

Sophomore Tori Faieta posted her fifth double-double of the year with 17 points and 14 rebounds tonight. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Faieta double-double and strong defensive effort keys Skyhawks win

EASTON, Mass. (February 10, 2013) – Stonehill College, ranked 14th in this week's USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, clinched its 32nd-straight appearance in the upcoming Northeast-10 Conference Tournament as well as a first round bye with a hard fought 67-55 victory over Merrimack College in NE-10 women's basketball action at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Sophomore Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) posted her fifth career double-double (all this season) with game-highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds with three assists, two blocked shots and a steal as she made 7-of-10 shots from the field and converted 3-of-5 free-throws. Junior Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) added 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including both three-point attempts, with eight rebounds, while classmate Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) posted 16 points on 3-for-5 shooting, including both three-pointers, and made all eight free-throws to go with six boards and six assists. Sophomore Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) chipped in 11 points and three boards (two offensive) in 18 minutes off the bench.

Stonehill finished shooting 45.1-percent (23-for-51) from the field, including 7-for-16 (43.8%) from three-point range (6-for-8/75% in the second half), and converted 14-of-18 (77.8%) free-throws. The Skyhawks dominated the glass with a 43-24 rebounding edge. Stonehill held Merrimack to 34.5-percent (19-for-55) shooting, including 31% (9-29) in the second half, with the Warriors making 8-of-17 (47.1%) three-pointers and converting 9-of-12 (75%) free-throws.

Junior Asia Ewing posted 16 points and eight rebounds in the win. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Junior Shelby Secor (Antioch, Calif./Antioch) led Merrimack with 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 1-for-3 from long range, and three rebounds. Sophomore Chloe Rothman (Newton, Mass./Newton South) was the only other Warriors player in double-figures with ten points on 3-of-5 shooting, including 2-for-4 from deep, and converting both free-throws to go with two boards. Freshmen Tia Scott (New York, N.Y./Suffield Academy) and Ashley Weissmann (Highland, Calif./Summit) both chipped in with eight points.

Stonehill wasn't able to break away until late in the second half when it used a 9-3 push to turn a five point lead (43-38) into an 11 point cushion (52-41) after two free-throws from Dixon with 6:24 left. Merrimack closed back within seven (52-45) after a Secor layup with 5:13 remaining, but the Skyhawks regained their double-digit lead (60-47) after a Dixon layup with 3:16 on the clock. Pelletier and Dixon also netted three-pointers to highlight the run. That stretch kick-started a 12-3 game-clinching Stonehill run that saw the lead grow to a game-high 17 points (67-50) following two free-throws from Pelletier with 27-seconds left.

Merrimack scored the first seven points of the game, keyed by a three-pointer from senior Kelly Ganser (Needham, Mass./Needham), over the first three minutes. Stonehill followed with the next eight points to take its first lead as Faieta scored six of her 11 first half points during that three minute stretch.

Merrimack regained the lead (9-8) with a layup from sophomore Melissa Miller (North Andover, Mass./Central Catholic), but Stonehill kept the pressure on and completed a 17-2 run to open an eight point lead (17-9) after a Dixon three with 11:31 remaining in the half. The Warriors closed back within a point (17-16) when Weissmann snapped a three minute scoring drought by both teams with a three-pointer with 7:02 left in the half.

Stonehill would lead by no more than five points the rest of the half, settling on a four point (31-27) halftime margin. Ewing opened the second half scoring with a three-pointer to push the Skyhawks lead to seven (34-27) 3:20 in. Stonehill's advantage grew to eight (43-35) after a Pelletier triple with 11:09 on the clock and after Rothman followed with a three ball, the Skyhawks were finally able to gain some breathing room.

Stonehill (18-3, 14-3 NE-10) is home again on Wednesday when it hosts third place University of Massachusetts Lowell for a big NE-10 clash during Play 4 Kay Week at Merkert Gymnasium at 5:30 p.m. Merrimack (11-10, 7-10 NE-10) visits Saint Anselm College on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

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