NCAA TOURNAMENT: #23 New Haven Stuns #13 Stonehill, 58-57

Senior Tori Faieta capped her illustrious Skyhawks career with a spot on the East Regional All-Tournament Team. (PHOTO BY Angela Datre)

Chargers outscore Skyhawks 11-6 over final 8:23 to pull out regional title

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (March 16, 2015) – Junior Briana Bradford's (Waterbury, Connecticut/Holy Cross) steal and layup with 4.2-seconds remaining lifted second-seeded University of New Haven, ranked No. 23 in the USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, to a 58-57 triumph over fourth-seeded and No. 13-ranked Stonehill College and claim the 2015 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament's East Regional Championship at the Center for Recreation and Sport on the campus of Adelphi University tonight.         

New Haven (26-5, 16-4 NE-10) clinches its third regional championship in program history (first since 1988) and advances to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight where it will face the winner of tonight's West Regional title game between fifth-seeded California Baptist University (26-6, 16-4 PacWest) and seventh-seeded California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (21-8, 17-5 CCAA) being played in Anchorage, Alaska, at 11 p.m. (EDT). Stonehill sees its season come to a close with a 24-5 record overall, including an 18-3 mark in the Northeast-10 to win the Northeast Division championship and make its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.

Senior forward Aquillin Hayes (Harlem, New York/Wings Academy) wrapped up Most Outstanding Player honors for the East Regional with a double-double effort as she led New Haven with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-22 shooting from the field and converting 3-of-4 free-throws, although she was limited to seven points in the second half, to go with ten rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Senior Elizabeth Cruso (Temple Hills, Maryland/Elizabeth Seton Catholic) added eight points, including back to back three-pointers that turned a two point deficit into a four point lead with four minutes to go, with two assists and a steal. Bradford finished with seven points and six boards, while junior Lauren Hebert (North Reading, Massachusetts/North Reading) contributed eight points on 4-of-7 shooting with seven boards.

Sophomore Kelly Martin was also named to the Regional All-Tournament Team. (PHOTO BY Angela Datre)

Senior Tori Faieta (Lynn, Massachusetts/Saint Mary's) led Stonehill with her 15th double-double of the season (31st career) as she posted 19 points and a game-high 16 rebounds (six offensive) with two assists, a blocked shot and steal to earn a spot on the East Regional All-Tournament team. Sophomore Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) joined Faieta on the All-Tournament team as she posted 12 points, aided by 10-for-10 shooting at the free-throw line, six rebounds and four assists.

Junior Paige Marshall (Braintree, Massachusetts/Braintree) contributed seven points, including a three-pointer that put the Skyhawks back in front with a minute to play. Senior Ashley Gendron (Auburn, New Hampshire/Manchester Memorial) chipped in with six big rebounds and five points for the Skyhawks.

New Haven finished shooting 37.7-percent (26-for-69) from the field, including 33.3% (10-30) in the second half, while Stonehill shot 31.1% (19-61) overall, including 7-for-25 (28%) in the second half. Neither team led by more than six points in the contest which featured four ties and 15 lead changes. Stonehill led for 25:58 and outscored New Haven 15-3 at the free-throw line, converting 15-of-18 (83.3%) at the stripe, while Hayes had all four of the Chargers attempts. Rebounds finished dead even at 43 apiece, with both teams collecting 12 offensive rebounds. Turnovers were also even at 14, but the Chargers held a 16-10 edge in points off, and the UNH bench outscored the Skyhawks reserves 17-9.

Stonehill led by four after a Faieta basket with nine minutes to go. A foul on an illegal screen negated a three-pointer from senior Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Massachusetts/Bishop Fenwick) for the Skyhawks that would have pushed the lead to a game-high seven. New Haven used the break to spark a 9-1 spurt over the next five minutes to take a four point lead of its own after Cruso's back to back triples at 5:50 and 4:18.

Trisha Brown Postgame

Marshall pulled Stonehill back within two with 3:05 to play and then neither team scored until Marshall's three-pointer with a minute left put the Skyhawks back on top (57-56). Martin drew a big charge with 35.5-seconds to play and New Haven opted to play out the possession and not foul. The strategy paid off when Bradford collected a steal near midcourt and drove in for the winning layup with 4.2-seconds left. Stonehill got a look at awinning three-pointer following a timeout, but Martin's attempt from five feet beyond the arc fell off the side of the rim to send New Haven onto the Elite Eight.

Stonehill jumped out early, scoring the first five points of the game and still holding the five point lead (9-4) after a Faieta jumper four minutes into the game. New Haven reeled off ten straight points to take its largest lead of the night (14-9) after a Hebert jumper with 12:31 remaining in the half. The Skyhawks followed with a 12-2 run to reclaim their five point cushion (21-16) on a Pelletier triple with 6:43 to go. The Chargers responded with an 8-2 spurt to take the lead back (24-23) on a Cruso layup with 3:47 remaining and then the team played back and forth before Stonehill took a 33-32 lead into halftime after a Faieta jumper with 20-seconds left.

Stonehill took charge again early in the second half, opening a game-high six point lead (42-36) after a Shannon Brown (Las Vegas, Nevada/Centennial) layup 3:19 into the second half. The Skyhawks lead was five (47-42) after two Martin free-throws with 11:22 remaining when New Haven used a 14-5 run to take a four point lead (56-52), capped by Cruso's back to back threes to set up the finish.

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.