Stonehill Tops Merrimack in NE-10 Opener, 74-69

Senior Tori Faieta posted her third straight double-double to open the season and lead the Skyhawks to victory in their NE-10 opener. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

Faieta posts another double-double to lead Skyhawks to third straight win 

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. (November 19, 2014) – Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in the USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II preseason poll and this week's D2SIDA national poll, opened its Conference schedule with a 74-69 victory over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at Bert Hammel Court tonight.

Senior forward Tori Faieta (Lynn, Massachusetts/Saint Mary's) continued her dominant start to the season with her third straight double-double (18th career) as she posted game highs with 20 points and 12 rebounds to go with three steals, an assist and blocked shot. Faieta made 9-of-14 shots from the field, including 6-for-7 in the first half, shooting 2-for-3 from three-point range. Junior Paige Marshall (Braintree, Massachusetts/Braintree) was the only other Skyhawk in double-figures with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 2-for-4 from beyond the arc, with three assists and two rebounds.

Senior Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Massachusetts/Bishop Fenwick) and freshman Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic) both finished with nine points for Stonehill. Pelletier added two rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Walsh made 3-of-6 shots from the field.

Stonehill shot 48.4-percent (30-for-62) from the field, including 10-for-24 (41.7%) from three-point range, shooting 56.3% (18-32) in the first half to lead by as much as 18 before settling for a ten point (46-36) halftime lead, connecting on 8-of-15 (53.3%) three's. Merrimack held a 42-31 rebounding advantage, resulting in a 15-2 scoring margin for second chance points, while the Skyhawks turned the ball over just ten times. Merrimack shot 40.9% (27-66) from the floor, including 8-for-15 (53.3%) from long distance.

Junior Paige Marshall added 12 points and three assists. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

Seniors Aria Johnson (Los Osos, California/Morro Bay) and Allison Wagner (Center Conway, New Hampshire/Kennett) led Merrimack with 17 points apiece. Johnson made 8-of-13 shots from the field and added a team-high nine rebounds (five offensive), while Wagner connected on 6-of-11 shots off the bench, including 5-for-8 from three-point range. Classmate Chloe Rothman (Newton, Massachusetts/Newton South) added 11 points, shooting 4-for-10 from the field, including 2-for-3 from deep, and five rebounds.

Stonehill led all but 3:58 in the contest, using a 17-2 run over six and a half minutes to turn a three point deficit (7-4) after a Johnson layup 3:18 into the contest, into a 12 point lead (21-9) with 13:29 remaining in the half after five straight points by Walsh. The Skyhawks buried four three-pointers during that stretch, including two by Pelletier.

Stonehill stretched its lead to 14 (28-14) after a Marshall three with 11:16 to play in the half, running the advantage to a game-high 18 (37-19) after a Faieta triple with 6:54 on the clock. The Skyhawks earned an 18 point cushion (39-21) after a Marshall basket with 6:17 to go before Merrimack closed within eight (44-36) after a Johnson layup with 21-seconds left in the frame.

Stonehill took a ten point (46-36) halftime lead with a buzzer-beating jumper from freshman Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) and then regained a 14 point cushion (50-36) after Faieta and sophomore Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) scored the first two baskets of the second half. Merrimack cut the gap to seven (52-45) after a layup from junior Tia Scott (New York, New York/Suffield Academy) five minutes into the frame.

Stonehill reclaimed a 12 point lead (57-45) with a Martin jumper and the teams traded baskets until the Skyhawks were able to extend the lead back to 16 (68-52) after a Marshall basket with 6:46 remaining. Merrimack wouldn't go quietly, reeling off a 13-2 run over the next three minutes to close within five (70-65) after a Wagner three with three minutes still to play.

Wagner pulled Merrimack within a possession (72-69) on a layup with 37-seconds to go, but could get no closer. Faieta scored a layup and then the Warriors came up empty at the other end to close the game out.

Stonehill (3-0, 1-0 NE-10) is back in action on Saturday when it visits 5th-ranked Bentley University for a Northeast-10 contest at 1:30 p.m. The Skyhawks return home on Tuesday, November 25, when it hosts Franklin Pierce University at Merkert Gym at 5:30 p.m. Merrimack (2-1, 0-1 NE-10) visits Franklin Pierce on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

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