NE-10 QUARTERFINAL: Merrimack Halts #11 Stonehill, 77-72

Junior Asia Ewing scored 16 of her team-high 19 points in the second half, adding five rebounds and two assists. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Rothman and Wagner lead Warriors to second-straight tournament upset

EASTON, Mass. (March 3, 2013) – Tenth-seeded Merrimack College continues to make some late season noise by claiming its second-straight upset victory with a 77-72 triumph over second-seeded Stonehill College, ranked 11th in this week's USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, in quarterfinal round action of the 2013 Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at Merkert Gymnasium this afternoon.

Merrimack (17-11, 11-11 NE-10), winners of a season-high five straight games with the last two coming with upset victories in the NE-10 Tournament, advance to face third-seeded Assumption College (21-6, 17-5 NE-10), among teams receiving votes nationally, in a semifinal round clash in Worcester, Mass., on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Greyhounds advanced with an 80-66 victory over sixth-seeded University of New Haven (14-13, 13-9 NE-10) in other quarterfinal round action today. Stonehill (23-4, 19-3 NE-10), ranked second in this week's NCAA Division II East Regional rankings, awaits word on a certain NCAA Tournament bid when the field is released by the Championship Committee next Sunday, March 10.

Sophomores Chloe Rothman (Newton, Mass./Newton South) and Allison Wagner (Center Conway, N.H./Kennett) led a Merrimack bench that produced 49 of the Warriors 77 points on the afternoon and outscored the Stonehill reserves 49-20 by combining for 36 points. Rothman netted a game-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, including 3-for-4 from three-point range, and converted 4-of-5 free-throws to go with four rebounds and five assists. Wagner was the only other Merrimack player in double figures with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 3-for-7 from beyond the arc, hitting both free-throw attempts to go with three boards and two steals.

Senior Kelly Schatzlein (Tolland, Conn./Tolland) grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to go with eight points and seven blocked shots for Merrimack. The Warriors finished shooting 45-percent (27-for-60) from the field, including 50% (16-32) in the second half, connecting on 10-of-23 (43.5%) three-pointers, including 8-for-14 (57.1%) over the final 20 minutes. Merrimack also made 13-of-17 (76.5%) free-throws and posted a 41-32 rebounding advantage that resulted in an 11-2 margin in second chance points.

Sophomore Tori Faieta posted her seventh career double-double with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Junior Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) scored 16 of her team-high 19 points in the second half after being limited to seven first half minutes due to foul trouble. She made 8-of-16 shots from the field, including 3-for-7 from three-point range, and added five rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes. Sophomore Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) notched her team-leading seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds while adding two assists and converting 7-of-8 free-throws. Sophomore Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) contributed eight points off the bench, connecting on 2-of-4 three's, while junior Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) chipped in eight assists and seven points.

Stonehill shot 41.7-percent (25-for-60) from the field, including 7-for-18 (38.9%) from three-point range, while connecting on 15-of-17 (88.2%) free-throws. The Skyhawks were 3-for-7 (42.9%) from beyond the arc in the first half, but just 4-for-11 (36.4%) over the final 20 minutes.

Stonehill led by four (38-34) at the half and regained a six point advantage when Ewing opened the second half scoring with a layup for a six point edge. The Skyhawks lead was still four (45-41) on a Ewing three-pointer four minutes into the second when Merrimack scored 11 straight points to open a seven point lead (52-45) with a Wagner six minutes into the frame. Stonehill cut the gap to five (52-47) on a jumper by junior Abbey Lalime (Orleans, Vt./Lake Region Union) with 12:40 left, but the Warriors widened the gap to a game-high 11 (59-48) with 11:01 to play when Rothman capped a 7-1 spurt with a three-pointer.

Stonehill rallied to within three (61-58) with 8:30 still to play after back to back three-pointers from Ewing and Pelletier. Merrimack held and regained a nine point cushion (69-60) with 4:57 left after five straight points by Wagner. The Warriors lead was seven (71-64) following a Rothman layup with 2:45 on the clock when the Skyhawks scored six straight points to pull within one (71-70) with 1:03 left after a Pelletier three and conventional three point play from Dixon.

Freshman Ashley Weissmann (Highland, Calif./Summit) responded with a three-pointer on Merrimack's next possession for a four point lead (74-70) with 46-seconds on the clock. Dixon was fouled driving to the lane on the Skyhawks next possession and made both free-throws to cut the gap to two again (74-72) with 21-seconds to go. The Warriors held once again and made all four free-throws from there to seal their first victory over Stonehill in six postseason meetings all-time.

After the teams combined for a three-pointer each over the opening five minutes of the game, Stonehill used a 16-5 run to turn a two point deficit (5-3) into a nine point lead (19-10) after a Lalime jumper with 9:31 to play in the first half. After the teams traded baskets for the next three minutes, Merrimack was able to chip away at the lead as the Skyhawks settled for the four point (38-34) halftime advantage.

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.

Trisha Brown Postgame Interview