NCAA REGIONAL SEMIFINAL: Smith’s Gamewinning Layup Caps #4 Men's Basketball Rally Past #8 Southern N.H., 75-74 (OT)

Senior Carter Smith drives for the winning basket with five seconds left in overtime. (PHOTO BY Tom Weishaar)

Skyhawks rally from 18 down early in second half to eliminate defending regional champions

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (March 13, 2016) – Fourth-seeded Stonehill College erased an 18 point deficit against No. 8 Southern New Hampshire University for the second time in a month, capped by a gamewinning layup from senior guard Carter Smith (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) with five seconds remaining in overtime, for a thrilling 75-74 triumph in an NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional semifinal, hosted by Holy Family University, at Campus Center Gymnasium tonight.

Stonehill (23-8, 15-6 NE-10) advances to the regional championship game for the third time in the last ten years where it will face second-seeded Saint Anselm College (23-8, 15-6 NE-10) here at Holy Family on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The Hawks advanced with a 77-73 victory over sixth-seeded Saint Thomas Aquinas College (27-5, 18-2 ECC) in tonight's first game. Southern New Hampshire, which captured its second Northeast-10 Conference Tournament title last weekend, sees its bid for a second straight regional championship halted with an overall record of 23-11, including 14-7 in the Northeast-10.

Smith scored 13 of his 18 points after halftime, including the gamewinning basket as well as a big three-pointer with 4:38 remaining in the second half that put Stonehill back in front for the first time since it held a 17-16 edge midway through the first half. He finished shooting 7-for-14 from the floor, including 2-for-6 from three-point range, while converting both free-throws to go with four assists and two rebounds.

Senior Adam Bramanti (Middleton, Massachusetts/Masconomet) led four Stonehill players in double-figures with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-for-8 from three-point distance, with four rebounds. Junior Ryan Logan (Fredericktown, Ohio/Fredericktown) flirted with a triple-double as he filled the box score with 12 points, nine rebounds and a career-best nine assists with two blocked shots, while senior Pierce Cumpstone (Bainbridge Township, Ohio/Kenston) notched his 13th double-double of the year (17 career) with 13 points, connecting on 3-of-8 threes, with 1 game-high matching 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.

Senior Adam Bramanti canned four three-pointers on his way to a team-high 21 points tonight. (PHOTO BY Tom Weishaar)

Senior Rodney Sanders (Elizabeth, New Jersey/Linden) led all scorers with 29 points (17 first half) for Southern New Hampshire on 12-of-23 shooting, including 5-for-10 from deep, with four assists. Senior BJ Cardarelli (Manchester, Connecticut/East Catholic) added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Penmen, while junior Jerome Harris (Hartford, Connecticut/East Catholic) netted 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 3-for-5 from three, and four rebounds. Junior Devin Gilligan (Amherst, New Hampshire/Kimball Union) grabbed a game-high matching 11 rebounds for SNHU.

Stonehill finished shooting 43.1-percent from the field (31-for-72), including 57.6% (19-33) in the second half to fuel the comeback and 4-for-8 (50%) in the overtime session, after shooting just 25.8% (8-31) in the opening frame. The Skyhawks were just 9-for-28 (32.1%) from three-point distance, but canned 2-of-4 in overtime, and committed just four turnovers in 45 minutes of play, three of which came in the first half. Southern New Hampshire shot 44.1% (30-68) from the field, including 48.3% (14-29) in the first half to build its 16 point (37-21) halftime margin. The Penmen held a 33-38 rebounding edge for a 14-9 edge in second chance points, but Stonehill claimed a 10-2 advantage in points off turnovers.

Stonehill, which rallied from an 18 point deficit late in the first half of its 69-66 Senior Day win over Southern New Hampshire on February 20, trailed by 16 at the break and then the Penmen extended their lead to 18 (39-21) on a Sanders basket to open the second half. Stonehill used an 11-2 run to pull back within nine (41-32) after a layup from sophomore Isaiah Bess (LaGrange, Maine/Hampden Academy) four minutes into the half,

SNHU answered and pushed its lead back to 13 twice, the latter of which came on a Harris tip-in (47-34) with 13:34 remaining. Stonehill reeled off eight straight points, sparked by back to back three-pointers from Bramanti and Cumpstone, to pull within five (47-42) heading into the under 12-minute media timeout. The teams traded baskets for the next five minutes before Stonehill scored six straight, including four from Smith, to draw within one (53-52) on a Bramanti layup with 5:34 on the clock. Smith struck for his go-ahead triple (57-55) with 4:38 on the clock and the Skyhawks lead stretched to three (59-56) after a Logan lay in a minute later.

Southern New Hampshire reclaimed the lead (60-59) with a layup from freshman Daquaise Andrews (Queens, New York/Thomas Jefferson) with three minutes to go. Smith put Stonehill back in front with a pair of free-throws, but Harris buried a three-pointer for a two point lead (63-61) with 1:40 to play. After Bess knotted the score for Stonehill, Sanders buried a jumper to push the Penmen back in front (65-63) with 27-seconds on the clock. Smith knotted the score with a layup with 19-seconds on the clock and the Skyhawks weathered a late jumper from sophomore Chris Walters (Stamford, Connecticut/Westhill) that was off the mark to send the game into overtime.

Bramanti answered an early Sanders layup to open the overtime session with a three-pointer, setting the stage for an extra session that would include eight of the game's 13 lead changes. Cumpstone scored five of Stonehill's ten overtime points, including a huge tip-in with 1:16 on the clock that put the Skyhawks back in front (70-69) after the two teams went over two minutes without a basket. Sanders pushed SNHU back on top after a time out (71-70), but Cumpstone drilled a triple for a two point Stonehill lead (73-71) with 41-seconds left. Cardarelli regained the lead for the Penmen with a three off an offensive rebound with 15-seconds to go, but following a timeout, Smith provided the late heroics with a drive in the paint with five-seconds remaining. Sanders got a contested look at the other end at the buzzer, but it fell off the mark to send the Skyhawks into the regional final on Tuesday.

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