Defense Keys Stonehill Win at UMass Lowell, 65-52

Senior Kristen McWhirter led a balanced Stonehill scoring effort with 14 points in today's win at UMass Lowell. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

McWhirter leads balanced offensive output with 14 points

LOWELL, Mass. (January 2, 2010) – Stonehill College rang in the New Year with another stout defense effort in posting a 65-52 win over the University of Massachusetts Lowell in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at Costello Athletic Center this afternoon.

Senior Kristen McWhirter (Melvin Village, N.H./New Hampton Prep) led a balanced scoring effort for Stonehill with 14 points, aided by 8-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line, while junior Tania Williams (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward-Melville) added 12 points, on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, six rebounds and two assists. Freshman Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) posted a season-high 13 points as she made 5-of-8 shots from the field, including all three three-point attempts, to go with six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Senior Emily Rousseau (Biddeford, Maine/Biddeford) rounded out the Skyhawks double-figure scorers with ten points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals, while freshman Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) chipped in with a team-best nine rebounds.

Sophomore Bianca Simmons (Middletown, Conn./Mercy) led UMass Lowell with a game-high 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Classmate Sarah Bennett (Newark, Ohio/Newark) added ten points, on 5-of-8 shooting, five rebounds and two blocked shots, while junior Sha'nay Bushner (Akron, Ohio/Kenmore) posted ten points and four boards. Senior Krissy Little (Concord, N.H./Concord) pulled down a game-high ten rebounds.

Stonehill held UMass Lowell to just 38-percent (19-for-50) shooting from the field, including 2-for-12 (16.7%) from three-point range, for the afternoon. The Skyhawks shot 38.7% (24-62) from the field overall, including 43.3% (13-30) in the second half, while draining 6-of-13 (46.2%) three-point attempts. Stonehill turned the ball over just nine times, compared to 20 for the hosts, and outscored the River Hawks 19-5 from the bench. UML out-rebounded the Skyhawks 39-37.

Freshman Mary Louise Dixon scored eight of her season-best 13 points during the Skyhawks game-clinching 14-2 run, draining a pair of key three-pointers. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

The final 13-point margin of victory matched Stonehill's largest lead of the afternoon as the Skyhawks erased an early four-point deficit (6-2) after a jumper from Simmons 3:12 into the game. Stonehill scored the next nine points to take the lead and open a five-point margin (11-6) after a McWhirter bucket with 10:34 to play in the first half.

Stonehill wouldn't trail again, leading by six (26-20) at halftime, as Rousseau scored a layup to end the frame. McWhirter opened the second half with a basket to push the Skyhawks lead to eight (28-20) in the opening minute. UMass Lowell answered with an 11-4 spurt to close back within a point (32-31) after a pair of free-throws from sophomore Briana Szidat (Pelham, N.H./Pelham) with 15:32 to play.

Stonehill's lead was still a point (42-41) after a three-pointer from sophomore Brianna Calver (Shelby, Ohio/Shelby) midway through the second half. The Skyhawks started to put the game away, using a 14-2 run over the next six minutes to open a 13-point lead (56-43) after a Williams layup with 4:09 remaining. Dixon canned a pair of three-pointers and scored eight points in all during the decisive run. UMass Lowell closed within eight (60-52) after a basket by Szidat with 1:15 to play, but Stonehill held the River Hawks right there and Rousseau sealed the win with a three-pointer with 26-seconds to play.

Stonehill (8-4, 3-4 NE-10) is back in action on Wednesday when it returns home for the first time in over a month to host Southern Connecticut State University for an NE-10 clash at 5:30 p.m. UMass Lowell (4-7, 3-4 NE-10) hosts Assumption College on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.