By Craig Gilvarg
Daily News staff
Mary Louise Dixon scored just two points in 32 minutes in Stonehill College's 82-64 victory over Barry University on Nov. 9. It was an uncharacteristically low-scoring performance for the Wellesley product — the Skyhawks' leading scorer — who did dish out 10 assists on the day.
But that game will forever stand out as a pivotal moment in her career.
Dixon, Stonehill's point guard for the last four years and captain the last two, entered the contest with 998 career points. Ironically, the one bucket she scored made her just the 27th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
It was another achievement for a player who is among the most decorated to ever suit up for Stonehill. Her biography on the team website extends over 1,600 words. She's a multiple-time Northeast-10 Conference All-Star and an honorable mention All-American, with more honors sure to come at the conclusion of this season.
But the occassion of Dixon's 1,000th point was rather unceremonious. She was just happy to get it out of the way.
"It was a little anti-climactic, honestly," she said. "I only had my parents there. It's not really the individual work I'm focused on and I'm glad I got it over with early in the season so I can focus on the team concept.
"We're focused on winning a championship."
Stonehill currently stands at 17-7 with one game remaining before the Northeast-10 tournament. It features the same lineup from last season, a team that reached the second round of the NCAA Div. II tournament.
"We had no seniors last year so we're literally the same team, which is great because we have such great camaraderie and chemistry on and off the court," said Dixon. "Last year we were young, this year we're a veteran team with a lot of experience and talent, and we play with so much heart, so we think this might be it."
As she has throughout her career, Dixon is providing the steady hand guiding the Skyhawks.
Dixon has started all 24 games, leading the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game and assists with 6.4, while also pulling down 5.1 rebounds. The entire offense is based on her versatility, her ability to manufacture looks for her teammates just as readily as she can create her own shot. She's the rare pass-first point guard who can score like a two.
She's also an elite defender, leading the Skyhawks in steals with 1.7 while setting up all formations in the defensive zone.
"Being the point guard, you really have to step into a leadership role at an early age," said Dixon. "Even as a freshman, when you're playing with seniors you have to be the floor general, call out all the plays, establish the defense, and that required me to be extremely vocal right from the start."
Dixon arrived at Stonehill after four outstanding seasons at Wellesley, where she helped lead the Raiders to a state championship as a sophomore.
That team featured both Dixon and standout freshman Blake Dietrick, who currently leads Princeton in scoring. The two combined to form a backcourt that opposing teams seemed powerless to defend, and that bond has kept them in touch at the next level.
"I'm so proud of her," said Dixon. "She works so hard and I know freshman year she didn't get the minutes she wanted, but she's developed into one of their best players and I'm so happy for her. We played for three years together and the chemistry we had in high school was just indescribable."
Dixon was given an opportunity to contribute early and often at Stonehill, and took over as the point guard midway through her freshman season. She started the final 15 games that year, and has started every one since.
"I was a little hesitant at first," said Dixon, "But I put in a lot of hours at the gym and I've been thrown into pressure situations before, and I feel like high school really helped me grow into the player I am."
Stonehill fell in the Northeast-10 tournament in each of her first three seasons and finally returned to the NCAA tournament last season.
In the first round against Franklin Pierce, Dixon left no doubt about who was the best player on the floor, setting a school NCAA record by scoring 32 points while also pulling down 12 rebounds and dishing out five assists in the victory. The Skyhawks were ousted by Dowling in the regional semifinal, but the experience set them up well for the current season.
Stonehill seems to be in solid position heading into the conference tournament. Dixon had her way with Franklin Pierce again this past Wednesday in an 81-67 victory. On Saturday the Skyhawks took undefeated Bentley — the nation's top-ranked Div. II team — to the wire in a 79-74 loss. Now, Stonehill has just one final game before tournament play begins, at home against Saint Anslem on Tuesday. Senior Night.
"It's crazy how fast four years goes by," said Dixon. "You think it doesn't go by that fast when you start as a freshman, and then you blink and all of a sudden you're here with your parents and playing your last game at home."
With her career at Stonehill coming to a close and graduation rapidly approaching, Dixon is preparing for the future. A finance major, she's looking at potential jobs in Boston and New York.
Then again, she may not be finished with hoops. There might be an opportunity for her to continue her career with a European team in need of a point guard with a multi-skill set. Possibly in Greece, or maybe Italy.
"If I find a scout or an agent that wants me after the season ends, there's many exposure camps you can attend where they can offer you a contract, so I'll be looking at those and keeping my options open," said Dixon.
But there's still plenty of basketball left this season — still a championship to try and win.
"That's definitely something that no one ever forgets," said Dixon.
And with the ball in her hands, you can bet on a few more unforgettable moments too.