#13/15 Stonehill Clinches Division Title with Win Over Assumption, 71-64

Junior Shannon Brown scored 11 of her season-high 13 points in the first half for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Lewis Glass/SportsPix)

Brown leads balanced Skyhawks to fifth straight win

EASTON, Mass. (February 11, 2015) – Stonehill College, ranked 13th in this week's D2SIDA Top 25 and 15th in the USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II polls, captured the Northeast-10 Conference's Northeast Division championship with a 71-64 victory over Assumption College in NE-10 women's basketball action on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Stonehill's division title is its first women's basketball regular season championship since the 2007-08 season as the Skyhawks now hold a five game lead over second place Franklin Pierce University with four games to play. The title is also the fifth of the 2014-15 academic year for the Stonehill athletic department which led the NE-10 Presidents' Cup standings after winning four championships during the fall season.

Junior Shannon Brown (Las Vegas, Nevada/Centennial) led Stonehill's balanced offensive effort which posted four players in double figures, scoring 11 of her season-high 13 points in the first half as the Skyhawks built a 15 point halftime lead. She made 5-of-7 shots from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, to go with four rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. Classmate Paige Marshall (Braintree, Massachusetts/Braintree) added 12 points as she converted all six free-throw attempts to go with 3-of-6 shooting from the field, while adding five rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and two steals.

Senior Tori Faieta (Lynn, Massachusetts/Saint Mary's) also netted 12 points (ten first half) on 6-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, while sophomore Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) rounded out Stonehill's double figure scorers with 11 points, aided by 9-of-10 shooting at the line, with four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Freshman Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) chipped in with a game-high matching eight rebounds to go with eight points, converting all six free-throws, and two assists.

Junior Kelly Conley (Ellington, Connecticut/Ellington) led Assumption with a game-high 17 points as she made 4-of-6 shots from the field, including 1-for-3 from three-point range, converting 8-of-11 free-throws to go with three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Senior Caitlin Ackerman (Nashua, New Hampshire/Nashua South) contributed 15 points, three rebounds and three steals, while sophomore Allison Stoddard (East Lyme, Connecticut/East Lyme) added 11 points and three steals. Junior Ann Marie Idusuyi (Lynn, Massachusetts/Saint Mary's) pulled down a game-high matching eight boards with seven points and two blocked shots.

Junior Paige Marshall added 12 points and five rebounds for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Emily Reynolds)

Stonehill finished shooting 40.8-percent from the field (20-for-49), including 53.8-percent (14-for-26) in the first half to build its 15 point halftime lead (38-23). The Skyhawks made 4-of-7 three-pointers (57.1%) in the opening half, but just 1-of-8 (12.5%) in the second, but held off Assumption by converting 20-of-24 (83.3%) free-throws in the final frame as 20 of Stonehill's 33 points in the closing half came from the free-throw line. Stonehill posted a 37-29 rebounding advantage and saw its bench outscore the Assumption reserves 26-12. The Greyhounds shot 36.5-percent (19-for-52) overall on the night, but just 9-for-27 (33.3%) in the second half as they got 21 of their 41 second half points from the free-throw line. Assumption finished shooting 82.8% (24-for-29) from the line overall.

Stonehill overcame a slow start in which it missed its first four shots from the field over the opening four minutes, reeling off a 20-4 run that turned a four point deficit (8-4) four and a half minutes into the game to a 12 point lead (24-12) after a Brown jumper with 7:23 left in the first half. Eight of Brown's 11 first half points came during that stretch, while Martin converted a three-point play that knotted the score (8-8) and freshman Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic) connected from beyond the arch during the run as well.

Stonehill stretched the lead to a game-high 18 points (33-15) with seven straight points, capped by a Faieta layup with four minutes left in the half. Brown sparked the run with a three-pointer, while Hyslip added a put back for the Skyhawks as well. Assumption closed back within 12 before the intermission, but senior Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Massachusetts/Bishop Fenwick) sent Stonehill into halftime with a 15 point (38-23) cushion with a three-pointer right before the break.

Stonehill never trailed again but was unable to totally put Assumption away in the second half. The Skyhawks led by 17 (57-40) after a pair of free-throws by Martin with nine minutes remaining and then Marshall gave them a 15 point lead (59-44) with 8:18 to go after Assumption had scored four straight free-throws to draw within 13. Marshall's basket would prove to be Stonehill's final field goal of the night as it was forced to hang on in the closing eight minutes while getting just four shots off down the stretch (and missing them all), to go with six turnovers. The Skyhawks converted 12-of-16 (75%) free-throws in the final 5:39 to seal their fifth straight win and avenge one of their two losses this season.

Assumption cut the gap to seven (65-58) after a Conley layup off a Stonehill turnover, but the Skyhawks regained their double figure lead (71-60) with six straight free-throws, including four from Martin, with 27-seconds on the clock. Assumption was able to cut the gap to seven at the final horn.

Stonehill (19-2, 15-2 NE-10), ranked second in the D2SIDA East Regional poll, is right back in action here at Merkert Gym on Saturday when it hosts its Play4Kay Game against Southern New Hampshire University at 1:30 p.m. The Skyhawks will be selling pink long-sleeve t-shirts for $20, while also raising money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund for breast cancer awareness. Fans can also donate online. Assumption (12-10, 7-10 NE-10) visits Merrimack College on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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