Men's Basketball Finishes Strong at Saint Michael’s, 84-71

Senior Pierce Cumpstone made 10-of-15 shots from the field for 24 points with nine rebounds. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)

Skyhawks clinch first round NE-10 Tournament bye, head to Adelphi for quarterfinal on Sunday  

COLCHESTER, Vt. (February 23, 2016) – Stonehill College, ranked fourth in the first NCAA Division II East Regional ranking of the season released last week, pulled away down the stretch to claim an 84-71 victory over Saint Michael's College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball action at Ross Sports Center tonight.    

Stonehill (20-7, 15-6 NE-10), which has reached the 20-win mark for the first time under third year head coach Chris Kraus and first time since 2011-12, earns a first round bye for the Northeast-10 Tournament as the No. 3 seed from the Northeast Division. The Skyhawks will hit the road to face Southwest Division No. 2-seed Adelphi University (20-8, 12-8 NE-10) in the quarterfinal round on Sunday at 3 p.m. The Skyhawks finished tied with Saint Anselm College (20-6, 15-6 NE-10) for second place in the Division, but the Hawks clinched the head to head tiebreaker with two wins in the regular season series. Saint Michael's sees its season come to a close with a 7-19 record overall, including 5-16 in the NE-10.

Seniors Pierce Cumpstone (Bainbridge Township, Ohio/Kenston) and Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) scored 24 points apiece to lead Stonehill to a fifth win over seven games in February. Cumpstone made 10-of-15 shots from the field, including 4-for-7 from three-point range, to go with nine rebounds (three offensive), two blocked shots and two steals. Smith was aided by 11-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line with three assists and three steals.

Senior Adam Bramanti (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet) added 17 points, connecting on 3-of-5 three-pointers while converting all eight free-throws, to go with five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Sophomore Isaiah Bess (LaGrange, Maine/Hampden Academy) rounded out the Skyhawks double-figure scorers in his first career start with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2-for-4 from beyond the arc, with four assists and two boards.

Junior Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Maryland/North Point) notched a double-double for Saint Michael's with 16 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, shooting 8-for-13 from the field. Senior Greg Grippo (Edison, New Jersey/Rutgers Prep) also scored 16 points in his final collegiate game on 5-of-11 shooting, including 3-for-9 from three-point range, converting 3-of-4 free-throws, while sophomore Colin Richey (Upton, Massachusetts/Choate Rosemary Hall) contributed 12 points and five assists off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting, draining both three-point attempts, in 15 minutes off the bench.

Senior Carter Smith made 11-of-12 free-throws for his 24 point night. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)

Stonehill shot 42.1-percent from the field (24-for-57) overall, including 45.8% (11-24) in the second half. The Skyhawks connected on 12-of-28 three-pointers (42.9%), including 6-for-12 (50%) in the second half, and outscored Saint Michael's 24-5 at the free-throw line, converting 77.4% (24-31) of their attempts. Rebounds finished even at 35 each and the Skyhawks also turned the ball over just nine times, holding a 13-7 edge in points off turnovers. Saint Michael's shot slightly better overall at 45.3-percent (29-for-64), including 48.5% (16-for-33) in the second half, but was just 8-for-20 (40%) from beyond the arc and 5-for-8 (62.5%) at the line.

Stonehill came out of a first half in which it trailed much of the first ten minutes with a four point lead (37-33) after a Bess three-pointer in the final seconds. Saint Michael's scored six of the first eight to gain an early advantage after a Bonds layup as the Skyhawks made just one field goal over the opening five minutes. Grippo drilled a three to push the Purple Knights lead to five (9-4) before Stonehill pulled even (9-9) on a Bramanti three-pointer with 12:36 remaining in the half.

The lead swapped back and forth until Stonehill scored five straight points for a four point cushion (34-30) after a Cumpstone layup with a minute remaining. Cumpstone scored the first five points of the second half to open a nine point lead (42-33) for the Skyhawks after a three-pointer two and a half minutes in.

Smith made two free-throws to stretch Stonehill's lead to nine (47-38) after five minutes when Saint Michael's used a 9-2 spurt to close within two (49-47) after a Richey three-pointer with 12:50 remaining. Cumpstone and Richey traded three-pointers before Bess scored three points and Smith buried a triple to restore the Skyhawks eight point lead (58-50) with 11:11 on the clock.

Stonehill's lead reached 11 (66-55) with a Cumpstone dunk with seven minutes to go. Saint Michael's pulled back within nine twice over the next three minutes before the Skyhawks sealed the win by stretching their lead to 15 (74-59) with 3:23 left after two straight Bramanti three-pointers.

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