Stonehill Skyhawks Athletics

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: "Area players enjoy Division II drama"

BY MARK ZNEIDER
COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Carter Smith and Ryan Logan have watched replays of the spectacular comebacks and buzzer-beating baskets in the NCAA Division I tournament, and have come away knowing the so-called big boys don't have a patent on creating pandemonium.

Stonehill College has reached the Elite Eight in the Division II tournament with a run of gripping victories, and the only difference is the games are not televised.

"It's cool that we're still playing at the same time as the Division I schools," said Smith, a senior guard from Upper Arlington. "We've been putting up highlights of our own. If we keep winning, our highlights will get out there.''

The fifth-seeded Skyhawks (24-8) play third-seeded West Liberty (30-3) at 3:30 p.m. today in a quarterfinal in Frisco, Texas. The winner meets Lincoln Memorial (32-2) or Barry (26-6) in a semifinal.

The game will be broadcast by the CBS College Sports Network.

"The Elite Eight is our Final Four, and we're so into March Madness," said Logan, a 6-foot-7 senior from Fredericktown. "Every game has been great — buzzer-beaters and long shots, just like those games you see on television."

Stonehill, a private school of about 2,400 undergraduates located in Easton, Massachusetts, wouldn't still be playing had not Smith driven the lane for the deciding basket with five seconds left in a 75-74 overtime victory over Southern New Hampshire in a regional semifinal.

In the regional championship game, Smith's layup in overtime put the Skyhawks ahead for good in an 82-76 victory over St. Anselm.

The central Ohio players worked in tandem on the final play against Southern New Hampshire.

"That play was for Ryan and me to be in a ball screen," Smith said. "The kid who was guarding Ryan gave me a wide-open lane. It was an easy read. We inbounded with 12 seconds left. I had to go right away. There were a lot of nerves. A lot of thoughts go through your mind. It's a big moment."

This march is nothing new for Stonehill, which has reached the Elite Eight twice before, the last time when Smith was a high-school senior in 2012. He chose Stonehill over Findlay and Hillsdale for that reason.

Logan leads the team in scoring (17.7) and rebounding (8.3). Smith is averaging 16.3 points, 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals and is shooting 46 percent from the floor.

"But it has been all five players on the court and all 15 players on the roster," Logan said. "We're organized and trust one another. Last year, we lost in the first round. This year, we said we're not leaving."

The Skyhawks lost in the Northeast-10 tournament semifinals, but received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"What makes this special is that the six seniors are finishing like this," Smith said.

mznidar@dispatch.com

@MarkZnidar