Regular Season Champion Skyhawks begin quest for first tournament title since 2008
Martin engineers the Skyhawks in her fifth-year season. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)
EASTON, Mass. (February 24, 2018) – Riding the wave of 20-straight Northeast-10 Conference wins to claim its ninth NE10 regular season championship in program history, top-seeded Stonehill College, ranked No. 7 in this week's D2SIDA Top 25 Media Poll and No. 18 in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, opens its quest for a sixth tournament championship when it hosts Southwest Division No. 4-seeded Adelphi University in quarterfinal round action of the 2018 NE10 Tournament on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Admission will be $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for children and senior citizens and $1.00 for students from participating institutions with a valid college ID. Stonehill students will be admitted free of charge with their HillCard, courtesy of the Department of Athletics and Student Affairs. Student Activities will hold a pre-game party starting in the student section at 2:30 p.m., with free pizza and other giveaways. SkyhawksVision coverage, with Charlie Bergeron and Brian Buckley calling the action, will be available at stonehillskyhawks.tv.
Stonehill (24-2, 20-1 NE10), ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division II East Regional rankings released on Wednesday, is the only program to appear in all 37 NE10 Tournaments since the Conference began sponsoring the championship in 1982. The Skyhawks have reached the NE10 Championship game 11 times, winning five tournament titles in 1983, '87, '95, '97 and 2008. Stonehill is hosting a postseason game for the second-straight season, but seeks its first home playoff win since a 75-60 quarterfinal win against American International College in 2014. Southern Connecticut State University edged the Skyhawks 62-60 in last year's NE10 first round.
Stonehill heads into postseason play winners of its last 15, having clinched its ninth NE10 regular season championship in program history. The Skyhawks also captured regular season titles in 1984-85, 1986-87, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96, 2007-08 and 2014-15. Stonehill's 24 wins mark the 25th time in program history it has reached or surpassed 20 wins in a season – the tenth in head coach Trisha Brown's 17 seasons in charge. The Skyhawks win total ranks ninth in program history, just one shy of a 25-5 campaign in 2014-15 and six behind a program-record 30-3 mark in 1994-95, Stonehill's second Elite Eight season.
Stonehill ranks second in the NE10 for both scoring offense (70.2 ppg) and scoring defense (57.2 ppg), leading the Conference in field goal percentage defense (.340) and free-throw percentage (.761), as well as a Division II-best 6.8 blocked shots per game and assists per game (18.6/gm), which ranks ninth nationally. The Skyhawks rank second in the NE10 for three-point field goal percentage defense (.252) and rebound margin (+7.6/gm), while ranking third in field goal percentage (.418) and fourth in three-point percentage (.326). Stonehill also ranks fourth nationally in Division II for three-point FG percentage defense and 20th in scoring defense.
Hyslip contributes 13.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game to lead the Skyhawks inside game. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)
Stonehill is led by the leadership of its six seniors, including the "Big Three" of classmates Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate), a two-time All-NE10 selection who missed all of 2016-17 to injury, Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy), a second team All-NE10 performer as a junior, and Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic), a third team All-Conference pick last winter. Martin fills the stat sheet with 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 33.8 minutes per game, shooting 85.1-percent (97-for-114) from the free-throw line.
Hyslip leads inside with 13.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, shooting 49.6% from the floor and 78.6% (77-98) from the free-throw line. Walsh contributes on the perimeter with 11.7 points on 41.5% shooting, including 37.3% (63-169) from three-point range, with 2.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Senior Elizabeth Grip (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts/Shrewsbury) spearheads the Skyhawks defense inside with an NE10-high 3.6 blocked shots per game, ranking sixth nationally in Division II, while chipping in with 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
Sophomores Grace Carter (Arlington, Massachusetts/Arlington) and Gabrielle Reuter (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Lawrence Academy) add support of the Stonehill seniors. Carter is averaging 6.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.2 assist and a steal per game, while Reuter contributes 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks off the bench.
While Stonehill had a first round bye into Sunday's NE10 quarterfinal, Adelphi (14-15, 9-11) needed to dispatch Northeast No. 5 Merrimack College in Friday night's first round. The Panthers jumped out to a 21-5 lead after a quarter of play and didn't look back in posting a 66-50 victory over Merrimack in Garden City, New York. The reigning NE10 Champions were led by the double-double performance of senior Natalie Fekula (Monongahela, Pennsylvania/Elizabeth) with career-highs of 16 points and 19 rebounds, while classmate Simone Hobdy (St. Albans, New York/The Mary Louis Academy) added 16 points and eight rebounds.
Walsh rounds out the Skyhawks double-figure scorers with 11.7 points on 37.3% shooting from deep. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)
Adelphi ranks fourth in the NE10 with 64.6 points per game, but is 11th for scoring defense at 61.4 points per game. The Panthers are third in the NE10 for three-point percentage defense (.261) and fifth for rebound margin (+2.8). Hobdy leads Adelphi with 12.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, shooting 42.7-percent from the field. Junior Niajah Morgan (Bronx, New York/Cardinal Spellman) is the only other Panther in double-figures with 11.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals, while Fekula averages a team-high 8.4 rebounds per game, to go with 6.9 points and 1.1 blocked shots per contest. Sophomore Fallyn Stephens (Marion, Ohio/Marion Harding) chips in 9.3 points per game.
Adelphi, winners of two of the last three NE10 Championships, is making its sixth NE10 Tournament appearance since joining the Conference prior to the 2009-10 season. The Panthers have reached the NE10 Championship game three times over the last four years, posting a 67-59 victory over Bentley University to capture its second NE10 title last year.
Tomorrow marks the 19th meeting all-time between these two programs, the second in postseason play. Stonehill holds a 16-2 advantage in the all-time series, but Adelphi won the only NE10 Tournament matchup with a 93-77 victory in the semifinal round in 2014 in Garden City. The Skyhawks won the lone regular season meeting between the two programs with a 73-55 triumph on Long Island on January 27. Martin led Stonehill with a game-high 27 points, including 19 in the first half, adding eight rebounds. Morgan three Adelphi players in double-figures with 15 points, nine rebounds (five offensive) and three steals.
The winner of Sunday's quarterfinal round matchup will advance to Thursday's NE10 semifinal round to face the winner of tomorrow's quarterfinal between Southwest No. 2 Le Moyne College (16-10, 12-8 NE10) and Northeast No. 3 Saint Anselm College (17-11, 13-8 NE10) being played in Syracuse, New York, at 2 p.m. Thursday's semifinals will start at 7 p.m., with the NE10 Championship game scheduled for Sunday, March 4, at 1 p.m.
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2018 Northeast-10 Conference
Women's Basketball Tournament
Friday, February 23
NE #4 Southern New Hampshire 75, SW #5 Saint Rose 62
SW #4 Adelphi 66, NE #5 Merrimack 50
Quarterfinals - Sunday, February 25
NE #3 Saint Anselm (17-11, 13-8 NE10) at SW #2 Le Moyne (16-10, 12-8 NE10), 2 p.m.
SW #3 Pace (15-13, 11-9 NE10) at NE #2 Bentley (24-3, 18-3 NE10), 3 p.m.
SW #4 Adelphi (14-15, 9-11 NE10) at NE #1 Stonehill (24-2, 20-1 NE10), 3 p.m.
NE #4 Southern N.H. (17-11, 12-9 NE10) at SW #1 Southern Conn. State (20-8, 14-6 NE10), 3 p.m.
Semifinals - Thursday, March 1 (at highest remaining seeds)
STA/LEM winner vs. ADE/STO winner, 7 p.m.
PAC/BEN winner vs. SNH/SCS winner, 7 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 5 (at highest remaining seed)
Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.
* - if same seed, site determined by winner of regular-season matchup