#11 Women's Basketball Faces St. Thomas Aquinas with Regional Final Bid on the Line

Diabate posted season-high's of 13 points and six rebounds to provide a huge lift off the bench in last night's opening round win. (PHOTO BY Lewis Glass/SportsPix)

Top-seeded Skyhawks take perfect home record into Saturday night regional semifinal

2018 NCAA II Tournament East Regional Website

2018 NCAA Tournament Interactive Bracket

EASTON, Mass. (March 10, 2018) – Top-seeded Stonehill College, ranked No. 11 in both the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll and D2SIDA Top 25 media poll, will face No. 4-seed Saint Thomas Aquinas College, receiving votes in the D2SIDA national poll, for a spot in the regional championship as the 2018 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament East Regional continues at Merkert Gymnasium tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Admission for the regional is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students, children and senior citizens. All Session passes are also available for $25.00 for adults and $10.00 for students, children and senior citizens. All games at the East Regional will be webcast free of charge through collegetvticket.com and produced by BTV (Bridgewater Access Television Online), with Steve Zerdelian, Charlie Bergeron, Brian Buckley and Jacob Van Ryn calling the action over the course of the three days. Links to the webcast and live stats are available at stonehillskyhawks.com.

No. 2-seeded Bentley University (28-3, 18-3 NE10), ranked 9 in the WBCA poll and No. 6 in the D2SIDA poll, and No. 3 University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (29-3, 17-2 CACC), ranked No. 16 in the WBCA poll and No. 20 in the D2SIDA poll, will play the opening game of Saturday's session at 5 p.m. The winner of tonight's regional semifinals will advance to Monday night's East Regional Championship at Merkert Gym at 7 p.m.

Stonehill (27-3, 20-1 NE10) cruised over the middle two quarters of its 70-45 first round win over 8th-seeded Southern Connecticut State University on Friday night. Senior Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the first half, to go with nine rebounds and four assists, while junior Maty Diabate (Holden, Massachusetts/Wachusett Regional) contributed a season-high 13 points and season-best six rebounds off the bench for the Skyhawks. St. Thomas Aquinas (28-4, 16-2 ECC) earned the first NCAA Tournament win in program history with its 61-45 victory over 5th-seeded Caldwell University last night. Senior Adiya Henderson (Troy, New York/Tamarac) posted a double-double with 18 points and ten rebounds, to go with two blocked shots to lead the Spartans.

Martin, the NE10 Player of the Year, is averaging 19.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the postseason. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)

Stonehill, making its 24th NCAA Tournament appearance, looks to advance to the regional championship at its second-straight regional. The Skyhawks fell to then second-seeded and No. 23-ranked University of New Haven in the 2015 regional final, hosted by Adelphi University, on Long Island. Stonehill has reached the regional championship eight times in program history, including 1995 – the only other time the College has hosted a women's regional tournament – when it defeated Saint Anselm College 83-69 at Merkert to advance to the Elite Eight for the second-straight year on its way to the National Semifinals. The Skyhawks 24 NCAA Tournament appearances is tied for fourth in Division II history and second in the region to No. 2-seeded and rival Bentley's 34 NCAA bids.

Stonehill, which won its ninth Northeast-10 Conference regular season championship with a program record for NE10 wins, enters tonight's game 16-0 at Merkert this season and winners of four-straight NCAA Tournament games at home dating back to 1985.The Skyhawks have won 17 of their last 18 since the New Year. Stonehill's 27 wins mark the 25th time in program history it has reached or surpassed 20 wins in a season, and the win total is three behind a program-record 30-3 mark in 1994-95.

Stonehill, 4-2 at home in the NCAA Tournament overall, ranks second in the NE10 for scoring offense (70.5 ppg) and third for scoring defense (57.5 ppg), leading the Conference in field goal percentage defense (.339) and blocked shots per game (6.9), ranking second for three-point percentage defense (.258). The Skyhawks also lead the NE10 in free-throw percentage (.769) and assists per game (18.6), ranking second in rebound margin (+7.4) and third in field goal percentage (.421). Stonehill leads Division II in blocked shots per game, ranking third in field goal percentage defense, ninth for three-point FG percentage defense, seventh in assists per game and 21st in scoring defense.

Martin, the NE10 Player of the year, headlines a trio of All-NE10 seniors, which includes Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) and Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic), who both earned second team All-NE10 accolades. Martin, who earned All-Tournament team honors at the 2015 NCAA East Regional, fills the stat sheet with 16.2 points (5th NE10), 7.1 rebounds (12th), 5.0 assists (2nd) and 1.1 steals in 33.9 minutes per game, and shooting 83.8-percent (109-for-130) from the free - throw line (4th). Hyslip leads inside with 13.5 points (12th), 8.3 rebounds (8th) and 1.8 assists per game, shooting 49.5% from the floor (4th) and 80.7% (96-119) from the free-throw line (12th). Walsh contributes on the perimeter with 11.4 points on 40.1% shooting, including 36.9% (72-195) from three-point range (8th), with 2.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

Grip is averaging 4.5 blocked shots in the Skyhawks four postseason games, and now ranks 8th in NE10 history with 111 blocks this year. (PHOTO BY Lewis Glass/SportsPix)

Senior Elizabeth Grip (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts/Shrewsbury), the NE10 Defensive Player of the Year who also earned a spot on the NE10 All-Championship team last weekend, spearheads the Skyhawks defense inside with an NE10-high 3.7 blocked shots per game, ranking sixth nationally in Division II, while chipping in with 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. She has blocked five or more shots 11 times this season after her five blocks last night, extending her school-record total to 111 for the season, now good for eighth on the NE10's single-season list.

Sophomores Grace Carter (Arlington, Massachusetts/Arlington) and Gabrielle Reuter (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Lawrence Academy) add support of the Stonehill seniors. Carter has started 17 of the last 18 games and is averaging 6.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, while Reuter contributes 6.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks off the bench.

St. Thomas Aquinas is making just its second NCAA Tournament appearance and will face Stonehill for the second time in the regional, having dropped an 83-49 decision to the Skyhawks in 2003 at Bentley in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Spartans are winners of four straight and 12 of 13, ranking second nationally in Division II for scoring defense, limiting their opposition to just 53.1 points and 35.8-percent shooting, including 29.7% from three-point range. STAC averages 69.7 points on 43.1% shooting, including 36.2% from behind the arc, while shooting 70.3% from the free-throw line.

Senior Jenna Erickson (Melrose, New York/Tamarac) leads STAC with 17.2 points per game, shooting 48.1% from the floor and connecting on 45% (95-202) of her three-point attempts – good for sixth nationally in Division II. She is also shooting 84.1% (95-113) from the free-throw line and adding 3.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.9 steals in 33.5 minutes per game.

Henderson provides support with 10.2 points and 6.9 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game, shooting 51.2% from the floor, with 1.7 assists, 2.1 blocked shots and 1.4 steals per outing. Senior Alex Bertolino (Garnerville, New York/North Rockland) contributes 8.9 points, 1.6 assists and 2.4 steals per outing, while freshman Emily Preston (Brisbane, Australia) chips in 7.3 points and 8.0 rebounds.

Tonight will mark the third meeting all-time between these two programs, the second in the NCAA Tournament. Stonehill has won the two previous matchups by an average of 31 points, including the 83-49 NCAA first round win in 2003 – Trisha Brown's first season at the College. The Skyhawks recorded a 79-51 victory over STAC in the 2005-06 season-opener in Sparkill, New York.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market. 

2018 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament
East Regional
hosted by Stonehill College
Merkert Gymnasium, Easton, Mass.

Friday, March 9
Regional Quarterfinals

#3 USciences 61, #6 LIU Post 50
#2 Bentley 71, #7 Jefferson 66
#1 Stonehill 70, #8 Southern Conn. State 45
#4 St. Thomas Aquinas 61, #5 Caldwell 45

Saturday, March 10
Regional Semifinals

#3 USciences (29-3, 17-2 CACC) vs. #2 Bentley (28-3, 18-3 NE10), 5 p.m.
#4 St. Thomas Aquinas (28-4, 16-2 CAC) at #1 Stonehill (27-3, 18-2 NE10), 7:30 p.m.

Monday, March 12
Regional Championship

Regional semifinal winners, 7 p.m.