#12 Stonehill Faces Franklin Pierce in NCAA Tournament Opener on Friday

Junior Mary Louise Dixon leads the Skyhawks back into the NCAA Tournament after a two year absence. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Second-seeded Skyhawks return to NCAAs after two year absence

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EASTON, Mass. (March 14, 2013) – Second-seeded Stonehill College, ranked 12th in this week's USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, will open its 21st appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament when it faces seventh-seeded Franklin Pierce University in opening round action of the East Regional, hosted by top-seeded and No. 3-ranked Bentley University, at the Dana Athletic Center on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

Admission for the regional will be $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for students, children and senior citizens per session. Friday's schedule is broken up into an afternoon and evening session, with a separate ticket for each required. The remaining games on Saturday and Monday will require just one ticket per day. All games will be webcast free of charge via www.packnetwork.com, with Steve Zerdelian and Jacob VanRyn calling the action on Friday. WSHL-FM 91.3 will also be broadcasting the game back to the Easton area with Craig Riotto on the call.

The Stonehill Spirit Committee and Office of Student Affairs are sponsoring a student fan bus for Friday's game. The Spirit Committee is offering the bus free of charge to students, with Student Affairs covering the first 100 tickets for those taking the bus. Students can sign up for the fan bus at the Info Desk through Friday morning and the bus will depart the Duffy parking lot at 1:30 p.m.

Stonehill (23-4, 19-3 NE-10) is making its 21st appearance in the NCAA Tournament in program history after finishing as runners-up in the Northeast-10 regular season standings. It marks the Skyhawks' eighth NCAA bid under head coach Trisha Brown, in her 12th season, and their first since 2010 when they reached the regional semifinals in Fitchburg, Mass. Stonehill has reached the regional final seven times in program history, capturing two regional titles in back-to-back seasons in 1994 and '95. The 1995 team reached the national semifinal round. Stonehill's 21 NCAA Tournament appearances ranks fourth in Division II history, with top-seeded and host Bentley leading the way with its 30th bid this weekend.

Brown, the NE-10 Coach of the Year, has guided Stonehill back to the NCAA Tournament by producing one of the top defenses and top shooting teams in the Conference. The Skyhawks are ranked fifth in the NE-10 for scoring defense (59.7 ppg), leading the Conference in field goal percentage defense (.367) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.270) while ranking second in blocked shots per game (4.5/gm). Stonehill also ranks fifth in the NE-10 for scoring (68.2 ppg) while leading the Conference in field goal percentage (.431), three-point field goal percentage (.372) and free-throw percentage (.766). The Skyhawks lead Division II with 18.7 assists per game and also rank sixth nationally for three-point field goal percentage, tenth for free-throw percentage, 28th for three-point percentage defense, 19th for three-point field goals per game and 22nd for field goal percentage.

Junior Asia Ewing had a strong NE-10 Quarterfinal and looks to continue that play into the NCAA's. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

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 and second team Daktronics All-East Region selection, has started all 27 games this season and is averaging a team-high 13.4 points (12th NE-10), adding 6.4 rebounds (20th), a team-best 6.2 assists (2nd NE-10 and nationally) and 1.2 steals in 32.7 minutes (15th) per game. She is shooting 43.2-percent from the field and a Conference-leading 86.1% (130-for-151) from the free-throw line (23rd nationally) for the year. She enters the regional 48 points shy of becoming the program's 27th 1,000 point scorer and ten assists shy of 400 for her career, 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 27 games this season and is averaging 12.4 points on 41.7-percent shooting with 7.1 rebounds (16th NE-10), 2.1 assists and a blocked shot per game (10th). She has posted four double-doubles, leading Stonehill in scoring eight 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 tied with Ewing for second on the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game while shooting a team-best 51.3-percent from the field (5th NE-10/32nd nationally) to go with a team-best 8.1 rebounds (10th) and 1.9 blocked shots (2nd) as well as two assists in 28 minutes per game over 27 starts. She leads the team with seven double-doubles, having led the Skyhawks in scoring five times and rebounding on 12 occasions.

Sophomore Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) rounds out Stonehill's double-figure scorers as she contributes 10.6 points on a Conference-leading 41.3-percent (66-for-160) shooting from three-point range (13th nationally) and 2.4 three-pointers per game (2nd) 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 27 games on the floor so far this season.

Sophomore Amy Pelletier is shooting a Conference-best 41.3-percent from three-point range, ranking 13th nationally. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Franklin Pierce (18-10, 14-8 NE-10) is making its sixth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament (tenth overall), marking the third-longest active streak in the East Region behind fourth-seeded Holy Family University (ten) and host Bentley (seven). The Ravens captured three-straight East Regional titles from 2008 through 2010, with first year head coach Jen Leedham helping guide the Ravens to the National Championship game in 2009.

Franklin Pierce ranks seventh in the Northeast-10 for scoring offense (67.3 ppg) and ninth in scoring defense (63.7 ppg). The Ravens rank second in the NE-10 behind Stonehill in both three-point field goal percentage (.368) and assists (16.3/gm) and are fourth in free-throw percentage (.708).

Freshman Kara Charette (Fairhaven, Mass./Fairhaven), an NE-10 All-Rookie Team selection this season, is Franklin Pierce's top scorer with 13.9 points per game (10th NE-10) on 52.7-percent shooting from the field (3rd) and 73.4% (138-188) from the free-throw line (15th) to go with 5.2 rebounds per contest. Senior Tiffany Johnson (St. Albans, Vt./Bellows Free Academy), the NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year, is adding 12.6 points, a team-high 5.7 rebounds, three assists, 2.9 steals (3rd) and nearly a blocked shot in 32.3 minutes per game.

Junior Brittany Martelle (Brookfield, Conn./Brookfield) rounds out Franklin Pierce's double-figure scorers with 11.4 points, shooting a team-high 40.1% (55-for-137) from three-point range (6th) and converting 88.5% (23-26) of her free-throw attempts with two rebounds in 23.8 minutes per game off the bench. Junior Kate McDonald (Fall River, Mass./BMC Durfee) chips in with 4.5 assists per game (5th).

Stonehill holds an 18-15 edge in the all-time series between the two programs, but Franklin Pierce has won all three postseason encounters between the two, including a pair of NCAA Tournament wins. The two teams have split the regular season series the last two seasons with each winning at home. Stonehill posted a 70-47 triumph at Merkert Gymnasium in November, with Franklin Pierce claiming a 72-50 triumph in Rindge, N.H., on February 6. Franklin Pierce posted a 70-59 victory over Stonehill in their last postseason encounter at the 2010 NE-10 Championship in Rindge, with the Ravens recording a 78-54 triumph in the 2009 NCAA East Regional Championship at Holy Family in their last NCAA Tournament clash.

Dixon averaged 12.5 points on 47.4-percent shooting, including 4-for-6 (66.7%) from three-point range, while converting 3-of-4 free-throws (75%) with six rebounds, four assists and 1.5 steals in the Skyhawks two games against Franklin Pierce this winter. Ewing has added 11 points, shooting 4-for-7 (57.1%) from beyond the arc, six rebounds and two assists. Charette is the lone Raven averaging double-figures against Stonehill this season with 13.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

The winner of Friday's game will advance to the East Regional Semifinal where it will meet the winner of tomorrow's first contest between third-seeded and No. 10-ranked Dowling College (25-3, 17-1 ECC) and sixth-seeded New York Institute of Technology (23-5, 14-4 ECC), among teams receiving votes nationally, on Saturday at 5 p.m. The regional championship is scheduled for Monday, March 18, at 7 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.

2013 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament
East Regional

hosted by Bentley University

Dana Athletic Center, Waltham, Mass.

Friday, March 15
First Round
Game 1: #6 New York Tech (23-5) vs. #3 Dowling (25-3), Noon
Game 2: #7 Franklin Pierce (18-10) vs. #2 Stonehill (23-4), 2:30 p.m.
Game 3: #8 LIU Post (19-9) at #1 Bentley (28-1), 6 p.m.
Game 4: #5 Assumption (22-7) vs #4 Holy Family (27-2), 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 16
Second Round

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 5 p.m.
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, March 18
Regional Championship
Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 7 p.m.