Women's Basketball Battles Past AIC, 54-52

Hyslip led the Skyhawks with 22 points, including the gamewinning free-throws with 1.2-seconds left. (PHOTO BY Barry Gutradt)

Hyslip nets team-high 22 points, including game winning free-throws with 1.2-seconds to play

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (January 21, 2017) – Junior forward Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) drained two free-throws with 1.2-seconds remaining to lift Stonehill College to a hard-fought 54-52 victory at American International College, ranked ninth in this week's D2SIDA East Regional poll, in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at Henry Butova Gymnasium this afternoon.

Hyslip's two free-throws capped a 22-point outing as she surpassed 20 points for the fourth time this season on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor, while converting 4-of-6 free-throws, to go with five rebounds and a career-high five steals. Sophomore Maty Diabate (Holden, Massachusetts/Wachusett Regional) notched her second career double-double (both this season) with ten points and a career-high matching 11 rebounds, with two steals, shooting 5-for-10 from the field. Junior Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic) rounded out the Skyhawks double-figure scorers with 11 points and two assists, while freshman Kelsey Shaw (Bar Harbor, Maine/Mount Desert Island) chipped in with five points, six boards, two assists and two steals.

Stonehill, which improved to 8-1 this season when holding an opponent under 60 points and picked up its first win (1-7) when not winning the rebounding battle, shot 43.1-percent from the field (22-for-51), including 48.1% (13-27) in the second half, connecting on 2-of-10 three-pointers (20%) and 8-of-15 free-throws (53.3%). The Skyhawks held a 22-16 edge in points off turnovers, with American International committing 18 turnovers to 16 for the guests, while the Yellow Jackets turned their 41-31 rebounding advantage (18 offensive boards), into a 19-2 margin for second chance points. AIC was held to 31-percent shooting (9-29 both halves), including 2-for-9 (22.2%) from beyond the arc, while connecting on 14-of-20 free-throws (70%).

Sophomore Dana Watts (Rochester, New York/Rush-Henrietta) led AIC with a double-double of 22 points and a game-high 12 rebounds and two blocked shots on 9-of-16 shooting from the field, converting 4-of-5 free-throws. Senior Imani Stepney (Willingboro, New Jersey/Willingboro) was the only other Yellow Jacket in double-figures with 11 points, aided by 6-of-8 shooting from the line, and eight boards, while freshman Destine Perry (Middletown, Connecticut/Mercy) chipped in eight points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals off the bench.

Diabate posted her second double-double of the year with ten points and a career-high matching 11 rebounds. (PHOTO BY Barry Gutradt)

Hyslip's winning free-throws with 1.2-seconds remaining came after an AIC turnover with 21-seconds left. The Yellow Jackets had battled back from a seven point deficit (41-34) after three quarters of play. AIC opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to regain the lead (44-43) after six straight points from Watts, who had eight of the Yellow Jackets ten points during the opening stretch of the frame.

Sophomore Nicole Rojas (Cromwell, Connecticut/Cromwell) answered with a jumper for Stonehill, but Watts converted a three-point play to push AIC back in front (47-45) with 4:46 remaining. Shaw delivered a three-point play for the Skyhawks on their next possession and then Diabate scored a layup to extend the lead to three points (50-47) with 3:41 on the clock. The Yellow Jackets forged the sixth tie of the contest (52-52) when freshman Nadia Wooten (Piscataway, New Jersey/Piscataway) split two free-throws with 1:33 to play.

Stonehill committed a turnover on its next possession and Perry beat the shot clock with a desperation jumper to push AIC back in front with 54-seconds left, but Hyslip responded with a tying layup with 39-seconds remaining and then the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over with 21-seconds to go. With two fouls to give, AIC tried to kill the clock and used both of them to keep the Skyhawks from getting good looks at a winning basket, but Watts committed the Yellow Jackets' fifth foul of the quarter to send Hyslip to the line for the winning free-throws.

AIC took a two point lead (25-23) into halftime following a defensive first half, and led by four (34-30) following a three-pointer from freshman Rashana Siders (Waterbury, Connecticut/Holy Cross) with 5:38 to play in the third quarter. Stonehill scored the final 11 points of the third frame, including four points from Diabate and a three-pointer by Walsh, to carry the seven point cushion (41-34) into the final ten minutes.

Stonehill (8-9, 7-6 NE10) is back in action on Tuesday when it visits Caldwell University, among teams receiving votes in both the WBCA and D2SIDA Top 25 polls, at 6 p.m. The Skyhawks return home next Saturday, January 28, to host The College of Saint Rose for its Alumnae Game at 1:30 p.m. American International (12-8, 7-5 NE10) visits Merrimack College on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

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