#12 Stonehill Hosts American International in Postseason Opener

Senior Tori Faieta, a unanimous All-NE-10 first team pick, leads the Skyhawks into the NE-10 Tournament for the 34th straight year. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Northeast Division champion Skyhawks and Southwest No. 4-seeded Yellow Jackets to square off in quarterfinal for second-straight year 

NE-10 Women's Basketball Championship Central

EASTON, Mass. (February 28, 2015) – Top-seeded and Northeast Division Champions Stonehill College, ranked No. 12 in both the USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II and D2SIDA Top 25 Media polls, opens its 34th Northeast-10 Conference Tournament appearance as it hosts American International College, seeded fourth from the Southwest Division, in quarterfinal round action of the 2015 NE-10 Women's Basketball Tournament on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium on Sunday 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. The first 200 Stonehill students will be admitted free of charge, courtesy of Student Affairs and Student Activities, when presenting their HillCard at the ticket table. The game will webcast live, free of charge, via www.stonehillskyhawks.tv, powered by Pack Network, with Charlie Bergeron and Brian Buckley calling the action. Live stats will also be available via www.stonehillskyhawks.com.

Stonehill (22-3, 18-3 NE-10), the No. 1 seed in the tournament from the Northeast Division is ranked No. 2 in this week's NCAA Division II East Regional rankings as well as the D2SIDA East Regional poll, is the only NE-10 member to appear in all 34 conference tournaments after eliminating rival Bentley University from postseason contention in the final week of the regular season. The Skyhawks roll into the postseason winners of two straight and eight of nine, having not suffered back to back defeats all year long. Stonehill is seeking its sixth NE-10 Tournament championship, having also won the tournament in 1983, '87, '95, '97 and 2008. The Skyhawks have reached the championship game twice in the last seven years and 11 times overall.

American International (16-13, 10-10 NE-10), making its 32nd NE-10 Tournament appearance, advanced to Sunday's quarterfinal at Stonehill with a 52-43 victory over Northeast Division No. 5-seed Saint Michael's College on Friday night. The Yellow Jackets won the NE-10 tournament in 2002 behind the MVP efforts of Karen (Patterson) Hutchison who is now in her eighth season as head coach of her alma mater. Senior forward Krista Ferrentino (East Longmeadow, Massachusetts/East Longmeadow) guided AIC past Saint Michael's with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while junior Kamika Mason (Long Beach, California/Wilson) tallied 13 points, 13 boards and four blocks. The Yellow Jackets trailed for the majority of the contest before clinching the win with an 11-2 run late in the second half.

Senior Amy Pelletier is the program's career three-point field goal record holder. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Points will likely be at a premium when the top two defensive teams in Northeast-10 clash on Paula Sullivan Court on Sunday. American International leads the NE-10 in scoring defense, yielding just 58.8 points per game, with Stonehill second at 61.7 points per game. The two teams are tied for third in the Conference for field goal percentage defense (.382), while the Yellow Jackets rank second in three-point field goal percentage defense (.283), with the Skyhawks third (.290). Stonehill also ranked fourth in the NE-10 for blocked shots per game (3.5), while AIC is tied for fifth (3.3), and the Yellow Jackets are ranked third in steals per game (8.0).

Stonehill, under the direction of Northeast-10 Coach of the Year Trisha Brown, in her 14th season, also boasts one of the top offenses in the Northeast-10. The Skyhawks are ranked third in the Conference for scoring offense (71.2 ppg) and field goal percentage (.439), while ranking fifth for three-point field goal percentage (.340) and second in free-throw percentage (.759). Stonehill leads the league with 17.6 assists per game, ranking second for fewest personal fouls per game (15.4) and fourth in three-point field goals per game (6.6) and fewest turnovers per game (15.2).

Stonehill is led by a trio of All-Northeast-10 Conference picks, including senior Tori Faieta (Lynn, Massachusetts/Saint Mary's) a unanimous first team All-NE-10 selection who is averaging a double-double with 15.3 points (7th NE-10) and 10.3 rebounds per game (2nd) to go with 1.8 assists and a Conference-high 2.1 blocked shots in 25.9 minutes per game. She is shooting 50.3-percent from the field (8th) for the season and leads the team with 13 double-doubles, having led the team in scoring 11 games and rebounding 21 times.

Senior Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Massachusetts/Bishop Fenwick) and sophomore Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) both earned third team All-Conference honors this week and are also averaging double-figures in scoring. Pelletier, who became the program's all-time leader in three-point field goals earlier this season (260), is a two-time All-Conference performer and is averaging 10.4 points in 30.7 minutes per game, shooting 36.8-percent (57-for-155) from three-point range, while converting 75% (24-32) of her free-throw attempts, to go with 3.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game. Martin is second on the team with 13.4 points per game, shooting 45.2-percent from the field, including a team-high 39.1-percent (25-for-64) from three-point range (7th NE-10), and converting 77.9% (95-122) of her free-throws, to go with 4.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists (6th) and 1.3 steals in a team-high 32.3 minutes per game.

Sophomore Kelly Martin, a third team All-NE-10 selection, is having a breakout year for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Emily Reynolds)

Junior Paige Marshall (Braintree, Massachusetts/Braintree) rounds out Stonehill's double-figure scorers with 10.3 points on 45.5-percent shooting from the floor and 80.9% (55-68) at the free-throw line with 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and an assist per game. Freshman Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy), the NE-10 Rookie of the Year, chips in 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game off the bench for the Skyhawks this season, shooting 48.8-percent from the field and 80.7-percent (46-for-57) from the free-throw line.

American International enters Sunday's quarterfinal on a roll with three straight wins after Friday night's first round victory over Saint Michael's. The Yellow Jackets rank 12th in the NE-10 for scoring offense (63.1 ppg), but commit the fewest turnovers per game (13.9) and are fourth in fewest fouls committed (15.7) and rank seventh in three-point field goal percentage (.323). AIC ranks second for rebound margin (+5.0/gm), pulling down 39.5 rebounds per game (5th), including 14 per game on the offensive glass (3rd).

Ferrentino, an All-Northeast-10 second team selection, leads American International with 15.2 points and nine rebounds per game, shooting 49.5-percent from the field and adding 1.2 steals per contest. Junior Brianna Bishop (Suffield, Connecticut/Suffield) is contributing 11.6 points, shooting 38.1-percent (61-for-160) from three-point range and 86.2% (25-29) at the free-throw line, with 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Senior Alyssa Roach (New Bedford, Massachusetts/New Bedford) chips in 9.7 points, 3.5 assists, a team-high four assists and 1.8 steals per contest.

Sunday will mark the second straight season American International and Stonehill have met in the NE-10 quarterfinals and is the 71st meeting all-time between these two programs, the 14th in postseason play and 11th in the NE-10 Tournament. Stonehill holds a 49-21 advantage in the all-time series, posting an 8-5 mark against American International in the postseason with a 7-3 clip in NE-10 Tournament play. Stonehill, which posted a 75-60 NE-10 quarterfinal win over American International at Merkert Gym last season, claimed a 69-44 victory over the Yellow Jackets in the lone regular season meeting between the two in Springfield, Massachusetts, on January 13. Martin scored 15 of her game-best and career-high matching 23 points in the first half to lead Stonehill to the win as she finished shooting 9-of-12 from the field, including 4-for-5 from three-point range, connecting on 6-of-8 shots from the floor in the first half (3-for-3 from beyond the arc). Mason led American International with 11 points, aided by 7-for-7 shooting from the free-throw line, with seven rebounds, a blocked shot and two steals.

The winner of Sunday's game will advance to Thursday's semifinal round to face the winner of today's quarterfinal between Southwest No. 2-seed University of New Haven (22-4, 16-4 NE-10) and Northeast No. 3 Assumption College (14-13, 10-11 NE-10) at 7 p.m. The Skyhawks will host as long as they are alive in the NE-10 Tournament, which will culminate with the NE-10 Championship being played at the site of the highest remaining seed on Sunday, March 8, at 1 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. 

2015 Northeast-10 Conference
Women's Basketball Tournament

Friday, February 27
First Round
Game 1: #5SW Le Moyne 61, #4NE Merrimack 58
Game 2: #4SW American International 52, #5NE Saint Michael's 43

Sunday, March 1

Game 3: #5SW Le Moyne (17-12, 10-10 NE-10) at #1SW Adelphi (25-3, 18-2 NE-10), 3 p.m.
Game 4: #4SW American Int'l (16-13, 10-10 NE-10) at #1NE Stonehill (22-3, 18-3 NE-10), 3 p.m.
Game 5: #3NE Assumption (15-11, 10-11 NE-10) at #2SW New Haven (22-4, 16-4 NE-10), 3 p.m.
Game 6: #3SW Southern Conn. St. (14-14, 11-9 NE-10) at #2NE Franklin Pierce (17-9, 13-8 NE-10), 3 p.m.

Thursday, March 5

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 8

Game 9: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8*, 1 p.m.

* - if same seed, site determined by winner of regular-season matchup