Senior Pierce Cumpstone led a balanced scoring effort in last night's first round win and is the team's top scorer since February 1. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (March 13, 2016) – Once again a familiar face will line up across the court as fourth-seeded Stonehill College gets set to battle eighth-seeded and red hot Southern New Hampshire University on day two of the 2016 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament's East Regional, hosted by Holy Family University, at Campus Center Gymnasium tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for the regional are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students, children and senior citizens per session. All games at the East Regional are webcast free of charge via packnetwork.com, with a daily postgame show produced by the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) at caccathletics.org. Calling tonight's game for Pack Network will be Chris Granozio and Ben DiNallo. Links to the webcast and live stats will also be available via stonehillskyhawks.com.
Stonehill (22-8, 15-6 NE-10) opened its 14th NCAA Tournament campaign with a commanding 78-62 triumph over fifth-seeded and rival Bentley University (21-9, 16-5 NE-10) in the final game of Saturday's regional quarterfinal session at Holy Family last night. Senior forward Pierce Cumpstone (Bainbridge Township, Ohio/Kenston) led five Skyhawks in double-figures with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, including 3-for-5 from three-point distance, while converting both free-throw attempts to go with eight rebounds. Classmate Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) added 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor with five rebounds and three assists, but a huge boost came from the return of senior guard Josh Heyliger (Queens, New York/The Hill School) following a month hiatus due to injury as he made all five of his shots from the floor, including a three-pointer, for a season-best 11 points in 13 minutes off the bench.
Senior point guard Carter Smith is the Skyhawks catalyst, earning third team All-NE-10 honors. (PHOTO BY Tom Weishaar)
Southern New Hampshire (23-10, 14-7 NE-10) advanced by knocking off top-seeded and host Holy Family (26-6, 17-2 CACC) in the earlier game on Saturday night. Senior Rodney Sanders (Elizabeth, New Jersey/Linden) poured in a game-high 30 points as Southern New Hampshire became the first No. 8 seed in the NCAA East Regional to ever knock off a top seed with the 88-80 first round victory. Sanders was 8-for-11 from the field, including 6-for-9 from deep, and 8-for-9 from the line, to go along with six rebounds and four steals. Junior Jerome Harris (Hartford, Connecticut/East Catholic) matched his career best with 14 points and tallied four rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block for the Penmen which placed four players in double-figures.
The winner of tonight's matchup will advance to the "Sweet 16" of the NCAA Division II Tournament for Tuesday night's East Regional championship at 7 p.m. The winner of tonight's opening regional semifinal between sixth-seeded Saint Thomas Aquinas College (27-4, 18-2 ECC) and second-seeded Saint Anselm College (22-7, 15-6 NE-10) will await the Stonehill-Southern N.H. winner. STAC, the East Coast Conference (ECC) regular season and tournament champions, notched a 92-90 upset of third-seeded Southern Connecticut State University on a Chaz Walter buzzer-beater, while Saint Anselm picked off Philadelphia University, 83-71, yesterday afternoon.
Tonight will mark the 54th meeting all-time between these two Northeast-10 Northeast Division foes, the third in the NCAA Tournament. Southern New Hampshire holds a 29-25 edge in the all-time series after the two teams split the regular season series in which each team won at home by a combined five points. The two programs have also split the two previous NCAA Tournament encounters, but the Penmen claimed a 71-59 triumph in the opening round of the 2015 East Regional in Springfield, Massachusetts, 365 days ago. Stonehill posted a 78-67 overtime victory against SNHU at the 1998 NCAA Northeast Regional in Loudonville, New York.
Southern New Hampshire recorded a 59-57 victory in Manchester, New Hampshire, in the first regular season matchup between the two back on December 12, before Stonehill rallied from an 18 point first half deficit to claim a 69-66 Senior Day triumph in Easton, Massachusetts, on February 20. Cumpstone led four Skyhawks that averaged double-figures in the two games against SNHU this season with 13 points on 71.4-percent shooting (10-for-14) with 7.5 rebounds, two assists, 1.5 blocked shots and 1.5 steals. He posted a double-double with 15 points and ten rebounds in the February win over the Penmen. Sophomore Chris Walters (Stamford, Connecticut/Westhill) averaged 18.5 points, seven rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals to lead SNHU in the two games against Stonehill, shooting 60.9% (14-23) from the field, including 3-for-4 (75%) from three-point range. He scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, with eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals in the Penmen's December win.
Junior Ryan Logan is a two-time All-NE-10 pick with first team honors this season. (PHOTO BY Tom Weishaar)
The two regular season matchups were decided by an average of 0.5 points as Stonehill averaged 63 points per game on 46.1-percent shooting, including 35.6% (16-45) from three-point distance, converting 88.9% (16-18) of its free-throws and holding a 30.5-29.0 per game rebounding advantage. SNHU averaged 62.5 points on 47.5% shooting, including 30.6% (11-36) from deep, converting 55.6% (20-26) of its free-throws in the series, posting a plus-2.5 turnover margin.
Stonehill, making its 14th NCAA Tournament appearance and second straight under third year head coach Chris Kraus '06, seeks a return to the East Regional final for the first time since its 2012 Elite Eight run to the National Semifinals when it knocked off the reigning regional champions en route. Kraus has been part of five NCAA Tournament campaigns with the Skyhawks as a student-athlete, assistant coach and now head coach. He was a senior on Stonehill's first Elite Eight squad in 2005-06 and an assistant in 2011-12 when the Skyhawks advanced for the second time in program history.
Stonehill, winners of 20-plus games for the first time under Kraus and 15th time in program history overall, has won four of its last five and seven of ten since the start of February after last night's victory against Bentley. The Skyhawks are ranked third in the NE-10 for scoring defense (72.4 ppg) and fifth for scoring offense (80.1 ppg), ranking second in three-point percentage (.411) and assists per game 16.8), fourth for shooting percentage (.465), free-throw percentage (.760) and blocked shots per game (3.3) and fifth for steals per game (6.4). Stonehill commits the third fewest fouls per game (15.5) and rank second for rebounding margin (+5.3).
Stonehill is led by a trio of All-Northeast-10 Conference selections hailing from the Buckeye State of Ohio. Junior Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown), a two time All-Conference performer named to the first team this season, is averaging a team-high 17.9 points per game (9th NE-10), shooting 44.4-percent from the field and 74.3-percent from the free-throw line (75-for-101), with 8.2 rebounds (7th), 4.0 assists (7th) and a steal per game. Logan, a two-time Spalding NE-10 Player of the Week this season who earned a spot on the NE-10 All-Championship team last week, is second on the team with ten double-doubles (19 career).
Smith and Cumpstone, both third team All-Northeast-10 selections this season, offer support of Logan. Smith is averaging 16 points per game (14th NE-10) on 45.5-percent shooting, including 44.3% (86-for-194) from three-point distance (7th), connecting at 85.6% (89-104) from the free-throw line (9th), with 4.0 assists (7th) per game, while adding 2.6 rebounds and a team-high 1.4 steals (5th) in 33.9 minutes per game (10th). Cumpstone, who earned CoSIDA Academic All-District™ first team honors, leads the team with 12 double-doubles (16 career), including a run of six straight in February, and adds 14.6 points per game to go with a team-high 9.7 rebounds (4th NE-10) and 2.0 blocked shots (3rd) per game, shooting a team-best 54.2-percent from the floor (9th), including 44.2% (53-120) from three-point distance (9th), and converting 77.1% (37-48) of his free-throws.
Cumpstone is contributing 20 points per game in the postseason on 57.9% shooting (22-38), including 12-for-19 (63.2%) from three-point range, 9.3 rebounds, two assists and four blocked shots per game. He is averaging 19 points and 11.1 rebounds per contest since February 1 on 57.6% shooting, including 56.9% (29-51) from beyond the arc, converting 17-of-19 free-throws (89.5%) with 2.4 blocks per game.
Southern New Hampshire, under the direction of head coach Stan Spirou in his 31st season, is in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year after capturing its seventh regional title and Elite Eight trip last season. The Penmen is making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years and 19th in program history overall after earning the Northeast-10's automatic bid by claiming their second NE-10 Tournament title with a 90-87 victory in the title game.
Southern New Hampshire enter tonight's game winners of six straight and eight of nine after last night's first round win over Holy Family. The lone loss during the Penmen's last nine was the February 20 setback to Stonehill. SNHU ranks sixth in the NE-10 for scoring defense (72.4 ppg), fourth in field goal percentage defense (.431), third in three-point percentage defense (.335) and blocked shots per game (4.0), forcing a league-high 14.6 turnovers per game with a league-best 7.9 steals per game. The Penmen are seventh in the NE-10 for scoring (79.8 ppg), sixth in field goal percentage (.456), fifth for three-point percentage (.376) and free-throw percentage (.751).
Sanders, a first team All-Northeast-10 selection, leads the way for Southern New Hampshire with 19.8 points per game (5th NE-10) on 54.9-percent shooting (7th), including a Northeast-10 high 51.8-percent (99-for-191) from three-point distance, converting 87.6% (92-105) of his free-throws (5th) with five rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals (4th) in 35.8 minutes per game (5th). Walters, a third team All-NE-10 pick, adds 17.5 points (11th) on 51.6% shooting from the floor and 77.4% (182-235) at the line with 9.5 rebounds (5th), 1.7 blocks (6th) and 1.3 steals, while senior BJ Cardarelli (Manchester, Connecticut/East Catholic) has contributed 11.9 points, converting 86.7% (65-75) of his free-throws (7th) with 4.3 rebounds per contest.
2016 NCAA Division II Tournament
hosted by Holy Family University
Campus Center Gymnasium; Philadelphia, Pa.
Saturday, March 12 (Quarterfinals)
#6 St. Thomas Aquinas 92, #3 Southern Conn. State 90
#2 Saint Anselm 83, #7 Philadelphia 71
#8 Southern N.H. 88, #1 Holy Family 80
#5 Stonehill 78, #4 Bentley 62
Sunday, March 13 (Semifinals)
#6 St. Thomas Aquinas (27-4) vs. #2 Saint Anselm (22-8), 5 p.m.
#8 Southern N.H. (23-10) vs. #4 Stonehill (22-8), 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 15 (Championship)
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.