#18 Stonehill and #3/3 Bentley to Battle for NE10 Title Foothold Wednesday Night

Martin ranks among NE10 leaders in scoring, rebounding and assists. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

Wednesday winner between nationally-ranked and archrival Northeast Division co-leaders will earn big leg up on securing top seed for next month's Conference Tournament

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EASTON, Mass. (January 30, 2018) – The Stonehill College and Bentley University women's basketball programs have met 106 times over the course of New England women's basketball's premier rivalry, but only a handful of those will be able to match or surpass the potential postseason implications when the teams square off for the 107th time on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Admission for Stonehill's Purple & White Game is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students aged 12-plus and senior citizens, with Stonehill students admitted free of charge when presenting their HillCard at the ticket entrance. Fans can also purchase tickets online in advance at stonehillskyhawks.com. Stonehill's Student Activities office will be hosting a pre-game party in the Skyhawks student section starting at 5 p.m., offering free pizza, face painting and other giveaways. SkyhawksVision coverage will be available at stonehillskyhawks.tv, with Charlie Bergeron and Brian Buckley calling the action. Links to the video stream, as well as live stats, will also be available at stonehillskyhawks.com.

Stonehill (17-2, 13-1 NE10) and Bentley (19-1, 13-1 NE10) enter Wednesday night's heavyweight battle tied atop the Northeast-10 Conference's Northeast Division standings, while holding national and regional rankings. The Skyhawks are ranked No. 18 in this week's D2SIDA Top 25 media poll and third in its East Region poll, while listed among teams receiving votes in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll. The Falcons are ranked first in the region and No. 3 in both Division II Top 25 polls.

While the NE10's Northeast Division title will not be officially decided Wednesday night, it will be hard to overlook the fact the winner will gain a huge leg up in securing at least a share of the title and, more importantly, the top seed for next month's NE10 Tournament as the calendar flips to February on Thursday. Stonehill and Bentley are currently four games ahead of third place Southern New Hampshire University in the standings. Bentley handed Stonehill its only NE10 loss in the Skyhawks season-opener back on November 15, while the Falcons lone NE10 setback came to SNHU on December 6.

Hyslip leads the Skyhawks in rebounding and double-doubles, also ranking among NE10 leaders in scoring and field goal percentage. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

Stonehill, winners of its last eight and 13-straight in NE10 play dating back to the season-opening setback at Bentley, has won all nine of its games at Merkert Gymnasium this winter. The Falcons have won their last 11 after the SNHU loss and are 10-0 on the road. The teams rank first and second among most NE10 team statistical offensive and defensive categories. Bentley is the top scoring team in the NE10 at 77.3 points per game, shooting a league-best 43.5-percent from the field and 36% from three-point range. Stonehill is second in the NE10 in scoring with 70.9 points per game, while ranking fourth in field goal percentage (41%) and sixth in three-point percentage (31.3%), but lead the NE10 in free-throw percentage (77.4%), while the Falcons rank tenth (69.2%).

Bentley ranks second in the NE10 for scoring defense (57.0 ppg), while Stonehill is fourth (57.6 ppg), and the Falcons lead the Conference in rebound margin (+9.8/gm), while the Skyhawks are second (+8.6). Stonehill leads the Conference in field goal percentage defense (34.0%) and three-point percentage defense (25.1%), while Bentley ranks third in both categories (34.8%/27.2%).

Six seniors spearhead Stonehill's roster, led by the All-NE10 trio of Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate), Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) and Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic). Martin, an NE10 Player of the Year candidate and two-time All-NE10 selection over her career, leads the Skyhawks with 15.9 points (5th NE10) and 5.7 assists (2nd) per game, while ranking second on the team with 6.7 rebounds (13th) per game. She is second among NE10 leaders for assist/turnover ratio (2.3) and free-throw percentage (87.5%). Hyslip, a second team All-NE10 selection last year, is second on the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game (10th), adding a team-high 9.1 rebounds (6th), with 1.8 assists per game, while shooting a team-high 50-percent from the field (4th) and posting a team-high eight double-doubles. Walsh, a third team All-NE10 pick as a junior, is contributing 10.9 points on 34.1% shooting (46-for-135) from three-point distance, and 3.0 assists per game.

Walsh is averaging nearly 11 points per game and shooting 34.1-percent from three-point range. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

Senior Elizabeth Grip (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts/Shrewsbury) leads the NE10 and ranks fourth nationally in Division II with her 3.6 blocked shots per game. She enters Wednesday night just five blocks shy of Stonehill's single-season record of 73 by Kelsey Simonds '10 in 2007-08 with her career-high 66 blocked shots this season. Sophomores Grace Carter (Arlington, Massachusetts/Arlington) and Gabrielle Reuter (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Lawrence Academy) have also added valuable support for the Skyhawks.

Bentley boasts five seniors on its roster, along with junior Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy), an NE10 Player of the Year candidate as well. Lux averages nearly a double-double with 14.1 points and 9.8 rebounds, with 1.1 blocked shots per contest and shooting 49.3-percent from the field. Postgrad Becca Musgrove (Plainview, New York/St. Anthony's) adds 11.6 points on 43.3-percent shooting, with 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.1 steals per contest, while senior Lauren Green (Damascus, Maryland/Damascus) contributes 10.9 points on 44.6% shooting, including 42.2% (43-for-102) from three-point distance. Senior Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, California/Windward School) chips in with 7.5 points, 4.4 boards, 3.9 assists and 1.9 steals per outing, converting 84% (42-50) of her free-throws.

Bentley owns a 69-37 advantage in the all-time series between the two NE10 rivals, having won the last six encounters, including the 84-73 decision at the Dana Athletic Center in Waltham back in November. Lux led three Falcons in double-figures with game-high totals of 24 points and 21 rebounds, shooting 10-for-15 from the floor, to go with two blocked shots, while Musgrove added 19 points, on 8-of-16 shooting, with five assists. Martin scored 16 of her team-high 20 points in the second half for Stonehill, including 11 points in a 29-point third quarter which saw the Skyhawks rally from a 13-point halftime deficit to within a pair (54-52) heading into the final frame. She also finished with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Hyslip recorded her eighth career double-double with 15 points and a team-high ten rebounds.

Following Wednesday's matchup, Stonehill will be right back at Merkert Gym on Saturday to host Southern New Hampshire University, ranked ninth in this week's D2SIDA East Region poll, for its Alumnae Game as part of Alumni Weekend at the College at 1:30 p.m.

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