Northeast Division No. 4-seeded Skyhawks make record 36th-straight NE10 Tournament appearance
Hyslip leads the Skyhawk in scoring and rebounding. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)
EASTON, Mass. (February 23, 2017) – After winning its regular season finale in a playoff atmosphere on Tuesday night just to get into the postseason, Stonehill College, the Northeast Division's No. 4 seed, will host Southwest Division No. 5 Southern Connecticut State University in first round action of the 2017 Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium on Friday night at 7 p.m.
Admission will be $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for students and senior citizens with college students from participating institutions with valid ID admitted for $1.00. The first 250 Stonehill students will be admitted free of charge courtesy of the College's Office of Student Affairs and the Athletic Department. The game will also be webcast live via stonehillskyhawks.tv with Charlie Bergeron and Brian Buckley calling the action, which will also be simulcast on Facebook Live via facebook.com/stonehillskyhawks. Live stats are also available through stonehillskyhawks.com.
Stonehill (12-13, 11-10 NE10), which clinched a spot in the NE10 Tournament with a 71-55 victory over Saint Michael's College on the final game of the regular season on Tuesday, is the only program to qualify for all 36 NE10 women's basketball tournaments. The Skyhawks have reached the NE10 Championship game 11 times, winning five tournament titles in 1983, '87, '95, '97 and 2008. Stonehill will be playing its first home playoff game in two seasons, seeking its first home postseason win since a 75-60 quarterfinal round win against American International College in 2014.
Stonehill ranks fifth in the NE10 for scoring defense, allowing just 59.1 points per game, while also ranking third in three-point field goal percentage defense (.297), fourth in rebound margin (+3.0/gm) and ninth in field goal percentage defense (.385). The Skyhawks are 11th in the NE10 for scoring offense (58.6 ppg), eighth in three-point percentage (.312) and tenth for field goal percentage (.385), while ranking third for fewest fouls per game (15.0).
After losing two-time All-NE10 performer Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) to a season-ending injury a week before the start of the season and then junior guard Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic) for the remainder of the year earlier this month, Stonehill has built momentum again heading into the postseason on the shoulders of junior forward Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Wesford Academy). She has taken over the team lead in scoring with 14.4 points per game on 51.3-percent shooting, with a team-high 7.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and nearly a blocked shot per game in 29.9 minutes per contest. She is also shooting 76.4-percent from the free-throw line (84-for-110) and ranks ninth among NE10 scoring leaders, second in field goal percentage, ninth in free-throw percentage and 16th in rebounding.
Diabate has reached double figures in four straight games, averaging 12.8 points per game in that stretch. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)
Sophomore Maty Diabate (Holden, Massachusetts/Wachusett Regional) has added support inside for Stonehill with 8.3 points per game, shooting 78-percent from the free-throw line (39-for-50), with 5.3 rebounds. She has scored in double-figures in each of the last four games, averaging 12.8 points on 51.4% shooting, with 7.4 rebounds per game over the Skyhawks last eight contests. Juniors Kate Ross (Fall River, Massachusetts/The Lincoln School), with 5.8 rebounds per game, and Elizabeth Grip (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts/Shrewsbury), with a team-high 1.5 blocked shots per game, as well as sophomore Tayler Wornum (Randolph, Massachusetts/Archbishop Williams), with 4.8 rebounds per game, provide support inside.
Sophomore Nicole Rojas (Cromwell, Connecticut/Cromwell) and freshman Kelsey Shaw (Bar Harbor, Maine/Mount Desert Island) hold down the backcourt for Stonehill. Shaw has shined in her first collegiate season, contributing 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.9 assist and a steal per game. Rojas chips in 6.0 points, 2.8 boards and a team-high 2.5 assists per game. Freshman Grace Carter (Arlington, Massachusetts/Arlington) has worked her way into the backcourt rotation for the Skyhawks as well, playing in six straight games and averaging over 28 minutes per game the last three.
Southern Connecticut State (11-16, 7-13 NE10) is making its 13th trip to the NE10 Tournament since joining the Conference prior to the 2000-01 season. The Owls have reached the championship game three times, winning titles back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, when second-year head coach Kate Lynch was an All-American on the team. SCSU is fourth in the NE10 for scoring offense (64.9 ppg) and 11th in scoring defense (61.7 ppg), ranking second in the NE10 for three-point field goal percentage (.352), but 12th in field goal percentage (.374) overall, while ranking fourth in free-throw percentage (.727) and second in steals (8.3/gm).
Senior Taylor McLaughlin (Colchester, Connecticut/Bacon Academy) leads Southern and ranks third among NE10 scoring leaders with 19.0 points per game on 40.1-percent shooting, including 37.3% from three-point distance, while converting 73.1% of her free-throws. She nearly averages a double-double, adding a team-high 9.1 rebounds per game (fourth), 1.9 assists, 2.0 steals and nearly a blocked shot in 35 minutes per game.
Rojas has been an important contributor down the stretch for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)
Classmate Maria Weselyi (Marlborough, Connecticut/Mercy) adds 12.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists, shooting 34-percent from beyond the arc and converting 77.8% of her free throws. Junior Murphy Murad (Storrs, Connecticut/E.O. Smith) chips in 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, a team-high 3.3 assists and a steal per game for the Owls.
Friday night marks the 28th meeting all-time between these two programs, the fourth in postseason play and third in the NE10 Tournament. Stonehill holds a 16-12 advantage in the all-time series, having posted a 67-55 victory in the regular season meeting between the two at Merkert Gym on January 7. The Skyhawks are 2-1 all-time in postseason play against Southern Connecticut, with the two splitting their two previous NE10 Tournament encounters. Stonehill posted a 65-60 home triumph over the Owls in the quarterfinals of the 2008 NE10 Tournament after Southern claimed a 76-60 victory in the 2007 semifinals in New Haven.
Walsh scored 14 of her team-high 17 points in the second half to help Stonehill seal the win in the regular season matchup between the two back in January, adding three rebounds, a career-high two blocked shots and a steal. Rojas added 16 points, aided by 10-of-16 shooting from the free-throw line, with five rebounds and two assists off the bench, while McLaughlin paced SCSU with a double-double as she netted a game-high 22 points with a team-best ten rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals.
The winner of tomorrow's first round matchup advances to Sunday's quarterfinal round at Southwest Division top-seed Adelphi University (23-4, 18-2 NE10), the top ranked team in the East Region and ranked No. 10 in this week's Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll and D2SIDA Top 25 media poll, at 3 p.m. The tournament will continue with semifinal round action on Thursday, March 2, with the NE10 Championship game on Sunday, March 4, at 1 p.m.
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2017 Northeast-10 Conference
Women's Basketball Tournament
Friday, February 24
GM 1: SW #5 Southern Conn. State (11-16, 7-13 NE10) at NE #4 Stonehill (12-13, 11-10 NE10), 7 p.m.
GM 2: NE #5 Merrimack (12-14, 10-11 NE10)) at SW #5 Pace (14-14, 8-12 NE10), 7 p.m.
Quarterfinals - Sunday, February 26
GM 3: Game 1 winner at SW #1 Adelphi (23-4, 18-2 NE10), 3 p.m.
GM 4: Game 2 winner at NE #1 Bentley (24-4, 20-1 NE10), 3 p.m.
GM 5: NE #3 Saint Anselm (18-9, 13-8 NE10) at SW #2 American International (19-9, 14-6 NE10), 3 p.m.
GM 6: SW #3 Le Moyne (14-12, 10-10 NE10) at NE #2 Assumption (19-7, 14-7 NE10), 3 p.m.
Semifinals - Thursday, March 2 (at highest remaining seeds)
GM 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 7 p.m.
GM 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, March 5 (at highest remaining seed)
GM 9: Game 8 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 1 p.m.
* - if same seed, site determined by winner of regular-season matchup