NCAA II EAST REGIONAL: #7 Saint Anselm Stops #6 Women's Basketball, 59-50

Raymond led the Skyhawks with 16 points, finishing the year second all-time in program history for freshman scoring (PHOTO BY Tom Weishaar)

Ryan double-double and Messler shares team lead with 14 points

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (March 16, 2019) – Seventh-seeded Saint Anselm College turned in its second-straight strong defensive effort of the weekend to knock out sixth-seeded Stonehill College, the reigning regional champions, with a 59-50 triumph in second round action of the 2019 NCAA Division II East Region Championship, hosted by top-seeded University of the Sciences, at Bobby Morgan Arena tonight.

Saint Anselm (21-9, 13-8 NE10) advances to the East Regional Championship for a chance to reach its first Elite Eight in program history when it faces fourth-seeded Le Moyne College (26-5, 15-5 NE10) on Monday here at Morgan Arena at 7 p.m. The Dolphins advanced to their first regional title game by knocking out top-seeded and No. 6/6 USciences (30-3, 18-1 NE10) in tonight's second game. Stonehill sees its season come to a close at 20-10 overall, including 14-7 in the Northeast-10 Conference, earning the program's 25th NCAA Tournament bid and reaching the 20-win mark for the 26th time in program history.

Juniors Shannon Ryan and Sara Messler combined for 28 points to lead Saint Anselm to the win. Ryan notched a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, with four blocked shots and three assists, while Messler added 14 points and four boards. Sophomore Peyton Steinman rounded out the Hawks in double-figures with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists, while classmate Grace Guachione chipped in seven points and four boards.

Santoro posted her second-straight double-figure game in the NCAA Tournament with 13 points (PHOTO BY Tom Weishaar)

Freshmen Kayla Raymond, the NE10 Rookie of the Year, and Isabella Santorowere the only two Stonehill players in double-figures, with a combined 29 points, both finishing off the season with a pair of double-figure games in the NE10 Tournament. Raymond scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the first half, filling out the box score with seven rebounds, three assists, five blocked shots and two steals, while Santoro netted 11 of her 13 in the second half, hitting 5-of-9 shots and converting all three free-throws, adding three boards. Senior Maty Diabate contributed six points and four boards (all offensive) in her final collegiate game.

Raymond's 16 points give her 420 for the season, a total that ranks second all-time among freshmen in Stonehill history, trailing only Stonehill and NE10 Hall of Famer Sue Patchett's '97 record of 450 points in 1993-94.

Stonehill jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead behind five points from Raymond over the first two minutes of the game. Saint Anselm scored the next seven points to take the lead (9-7) after two free-throws by senior Michaela Martin with 3:49 left in the first quarter, with Steinman also connecting on a three-pointer.

Saint Anselm carried that cushion into the second quarter and Messler scored the first five points of the frame to give the Hawks a seven point cushion (16-9) after less than two minutes. Senior Emma Daly converted a three-point play to put Saint Anselm up eight (23-15) with 2:36 left in the half, but Stonehill scored seven-straight, including five by Raymond, who drained another three-pointer, to draw the Skyhawks within one (23-22) with 1:23 to go. Ryan gave Saint Anselm a three-point (25-22) halftime cushion and then she and Steinman scored the first two baskets of the second half to restore its seven-point lead (29-22) after two and a half minutes.

Stonehill came out of a time out and scored ten-straight points to reclaim the lead (32-29) after two free throws by Diabate midway through the third quarter. Santoro also scored a three-point play and junior Kelsey Shaw drained a three to spark the run. Saint Anselm used a 9-2 spurt to close out the third that turned its three-point deficit (34-31) after a Diabate jumper into a four-point lead (40-36) with 14-seconds left before the fourth.

Stonehill pulled even twice in the final frame, but could not reclaim the lead, the latter occasion coming at 46-46 with 3:38 play after back-to-back layups from Santoro. Saint Anselm, however, would close the game out from there, scoring the next 11 points, keyed by a Messler three-pointer with 1:17 remaining, to seal the win.

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