#11 Stonehill Set to Host Merrimack in NE-10 Quarterfinal

Junior Mary Louise Dixon, a first team All-NE-10 pick, leads the Skyhawks into the NE-10 Tournament. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Second-seeded Skyhawks await tenth-seeded Warriors after first round upset win

EASTON, Mass. (March 1, 2013) – Second-seeded Stonehill College, ranked 11th in this week's USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, opens its 32nd-straight Northeast-10 Conference Tournament when it hosts tenth-seeded Merrimack College for a quarterfinal round matchup on Sunday in Merkert Gymnasium at 3 p.m.

Admission will be $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for students and senior citizens with college students from participating institutions with valid ID admitted for $1.00. All Stonehill will be admitted free of charge when presenting their HillCard courtesy of the Athletic Department. The game will webcast live for $6.99 via www.stonehillskyhawks.tv, with Charlie Bergeron and Brian Buckley calling the action.

Stonehill (23-3, 19-3 NE-10), who joins rival and top-seeded Bentley University as the only two NE-10 members to appear in all 32 conference tournaments, enters the postseason winners of six straight and nine of ten, including a 73-66 triumph over top-ranked and NE-10 regular season champions Bentley in its last home game a week ago. The Skyhawks have won the NE-10 championship five times overall, having also won the tournament in 1983, '87, '95, '97 and 2008. The Skyhawks have reached the championship game twice in the last five years and ten times overall.

Stonehill, ranked second in the NCAA Division II East Regional rankings for the second straight week, brings a sterling 14-0 record at Merkert Gym this season into Sunday's contest. The Skyhawks have won 18 straight home games dating back to last season and 20 of 21 dating back to New Year's Day 2012.

Junior Asia Ewing is also one of four Skyhawks averaging in double-figures this season. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Head Coach Trisha Brown, the NE-10 Coach of the Year, has guided Stonehill back to the upper portion of the NE-10 standings by producing one of the top defenses and top shooting teams in the Conference. The Skyhawks are ranked fourth in the NE-10 for scoring defense (59.0 ppg), leading the Conference in field goal percentage defense (.364) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.260) while ranking second in blocked shots per game (4.5/gm). Stonehill ranks fifth in the NE-10 for scoring (68 ppg) while leading the Conference in field goal percentage (.432), three-point field goal percentage (.371) and free-throw percentage (.760). The Skyhawks lead Division II with 18.8 assists per game and also rank eighth nationally for three-point field goal percentage, 12th for free-throw percentage, 15th for three-point percentage defense, 19th for three-point field goals per game and 24th for field goal percentage.

Stonehill has produced the program's 23rd 20-win season in its 42-year history without a single senior on the roster. The Skyhawks have gotten tremendous leadership from its two junior captains, Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) and Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy). Dixon, a first team All-Northeast-10 selection, has started all 26 games this season and is averaging a team-high 13.8 points (11th NE-10), adding 6.6 rebounds (18th), a team-best 6.1 assists (2nd NE-10 and nationally) and 1.3 steals in 32.9 minutes (15th) per game. She is shooting 44.2-percent from the field and a Conference-leading 85.6% (125-for-146) from the free-throw line (25th nationally) for the year. She has posted three double-doubles, including the third triple-double in program history in a 103-93 win over UMass Lowell on February 13, and has led Stonehill in scoring ten times.

Ewing has also started all 26 games this season and is averaging 12.2 points on 41.3-percent shooting with 7.2 rebounds (15th NE-10), 2.1 assists and a blocked shot per game (10th). She has posted four double-doubles, leading Stonehill in scoring seven times and rebounding on ten occasions. Sophomore Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's), a second team All-Northeast-10 pick, has combined with Ewing to produce a formidable front court combination. She is second on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game while shooting a team-best 52.3-percent from the field (4th NE-10/23rd nationally) to go with a team-best eight rebounds (10th) and 1.9 blocked shots (2nd) as well as two assists in 27.8 minutes per game over 26 starts. She leads the team with six double-doubles this season, having led the Skyhawks in scoring five times and rebounding on 11 occasions.

Sophomore Amy Pelletier leads the NE-10 with 2.5 three-point field goals per game, ranking second for three-point percentage. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)

Sophomore Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) rounds out Stonehill's double-figure scorers as she contributes 10.7 points on 41-percent (64-for-156) shooting from three-point range (2nd NE-10), with a Conference leading 2.5 three-pointers per game in 25.1 minutes off the bench. Sophomore Jamie Panton (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex) and freshman Paige Marshall (Braintree, Mass./Braintree) round out the Skyhawks starting five, which has opened all 26 games on the floor so far this season.

Merrimack (16-11, 11-11 NE-10) advanced to Sunday's quarterfinal with a 75-70 overtime upset of seventh-seeded Pace University in Friday's first round in Pleasantville, N.Y. The Warriors overcame a 15-point second half deficit, trailing by 13 with five minutes to play before rallying with a 17-4 run to force overtime. Freshman Tia Scott (New York, N.Y./Suffield Academy) led the way with a season-high 15 points, including 13 in the first half, to go along with six assists. The Warriors are making their 23rd NE-10 Tournament appearance, seeking just its second title after claiming the crown in 2004 and finishing as runners up on two other occasions.

Merrimack are winners of four straight for the third time this season, picking up victories in five of its last six after a 67-55 setback to Stonehill at Merkert Gym marked a season-high sixth-straight defeat. The Warriors rank sixth in the NE-10 for scoring offense (67.9 ppg) and tenth for scoring defense (64.4 ppg).

Senior Kelly Schatzlein (Tolland, Conn./Tolland) averages a double-double for Merrimack with 11.8 points and 10.6 rebounds (2nd NE-10) per game to go with 1.6 blocked shots (5th) and 1.4 steals per outing. She is shooting 50-percent from the field (8th) for the season. Sophomore Chloe Rothman (Newton, Mass./Newton South) adds a team-high 11.9 points, shooting 41.1-percent from the field, 35.1% (52-for-148) from three-point range and 75.7% (53-70) from the free-throw line. She also contributes 2.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists (7th) and 1.1 steals per game.

Trisha Brown Postseason Preview

Merrimack also gets valuable input from senior Jaclyn Lyons (Reading, Mass./Reading) and freshman Ashley Weissmann (Highland, Calif./Summit). Lyons chips in 9.5 points per game on a Conference leading 43.1-percent (28-for-65) shooting from three-point range, and Weismann adds 8.8 points.

Stonehill has won all five of the previous postseason encounters between the two programs, with all coming in the NE-10 Tournament. Sunday will mark the first postseason meeting between the two since the fifth-seeded Skyhawks posted a 77-65 first round victory over 12th-seeded Merrimack in the first round of the 2007 tournament. Stonehill won both regular season meetings between the two this winter, posting an 84-67 victory in North Andover, Mass., on January 5, and then claiming a 67-55 decision at Merkert Gym on February 10.

Faieta led five Stonehill players to average double-figures against Merrimack this season, averaging 15 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and a blocked shot per game, while shooting 65-percent (13-for-20) from the field. Rothman led the Warriors with 13.5 points on 43.5% (10-for-23) shooting and two rebounds per game. Stonehill shot 51-percent from the field over the two matchups, including 19-for-35 (54.3%) from beyond the arc, and converted 26-of-31 (83.9%) of its free-throws. Merrimack shot 38.7% from the field in the two meetings, including 15-for-40 (37.5%) from long range, and 65.6% from the free-throw line.

The winner of Sunday's matchup will advance to Thursday's NE-10 semifinal round to face the winner of a quarterfinal between third-seeded Assumption College (20-6, 17-5 NE-10) and sixth-seeded University of New Haven (14-12, 13-9 NE-10) at 7 p.m. Stonehill would host the matchup should it advance on Sunday. The NE-10 Championship is slated for Sunday, March 10, at 1 p.m., at the home of the higher remaining seed.

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.

2013 Northeast-10 Conference
Women's Basketball Championships

Friday, March 1
First Round

Game 1: #10 Merrimack 75, #7 Pace 70 (OT)
Game 2: #8 Adelphi 80, #9 American International 77 (OT)

Sunday, March 3

Game 3: #8 Adelphi (15-12, 11-11 NE-10) at #1 Bentley (25-1, 21-1 NE-10), 3 p.m.
Game 4: #10 Merrimack (16-11, 11-11 NE-10) at #2 Stonehill (23-3, 19-3 NE-10), 3 p.m.
Game 5: #6 New Haven (14-12, 13-9 NE-10) at #3 Assumption (20-6, 17-5 NE-10), 2 p.m.
Game 6: #5 Franklin Pierce (17-9, 14-8 NE-10) at #4 UMass Lowell (18-8, 15-7 NE-10), 3 p.m.

Thursday, March 7
Semifinals (at higher seeds)

Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.

Sunday, March 10
Championship (at highest remaining seed)
Game 9: Game 8 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 1 p.m.