NCAA TOURNAMENT: #4 Stonehill Surges Past #5 District of Columbia, 79-61

Sophomore Shannon Brown led the Skyhawks with 18 points off the bench tonight. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)

Brown leads five Skyhawks in double figures with 18 points

BROCKTON ENTERPRISE: "Strong second half propels Stonehill women to win"

WALTHAM, Mass. (March 14, 2014) – Fourth-seeded Stonehill College shot 46.7-percent from the field in the second half to pull away and claim a 79-61 triumph over fifth-seeded University of the District of Columbia, receiving votes in the most recent USA TODAY Sports Division II poll, in opening round action of the 2014 NCAA Division II Tournament East Regional, hosted by top-seeded and top-ranked Bentley University at the Dana Athletic Center tonight.

Stonehill (19-9, 14-7 NE-10) advances to the regional semifinal for the second-straight year where it will battle host Bentley (30-0, 21-0 NE-10) tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. The Falcons fought past eighth-seeded Bloomfield University (20-10, 15-4 CACC) 80-65 in tonight's opening game of the evening session. District of Columbia closes out its season with a 21-8 record overall, including a 15-5 clip in the East Coast Conference, having captured the league's automatic bid by winning the Conference tournament last weekend.

Sophomore forward Shannon Brown (Las Vegas, Nev./Centennial) provided a lift off the Stonehill bench and led five Skyhawks in double-figures with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 2-for-2 from three-point range, while converting all six free-throws to go with five rebounds. Senior Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half to go with seven assists, six rebounds, a blocked shot and steal. Her seven assists give her 572 for her career, moving past Jillian Middlemiss, '04, (568) into third place all-time.

Junior Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) posted her second straight double-double and ninth this season overall (16th career) with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to go with two assists and two blocks, while shooting 6-for-11 from the field. Sophomore Paige Marshall (Braintree, Mass./Braintree) fell just a rebound shy of her first career double-double by adding 14 points and a career-high nine rebounds with two assists, shooting 5-for-8 from the field, including 2-for-5 from beyond the arc, while junior Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) chipped in 11 points, connecting on three three-pointers, including the 200th of her career to become just the third player in program history to reach the milestone.

Sophomore Paige Marshall nearly notched her first career double-double, finishing with 14 points and a career-high nine rebounds. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)

Stonehill finished shooting 42.6-percent (26-for-61) for the night, including 46.7% (14-30) in the second half to break away after trailing by one (34-33) at halftime. The Skyhawks shot 34.5% (10-for-29) from three-point range, including 7-for-17 (41.2%) over the final 20 minutes, and converted 17-of-22 (77.3%) free-throw attempts on the night. Stonehill posted a 46-37 rebounding advantage and had its bench outscore the District of Columbia reserves 21-9, behind Brown's 18. The Firebirds were held to 31.8% (21-66) shooting, including 25% (8-32) in the second half, connecting on 7-of-22 (31.8%) threes and 12-of-15 (80%) free-throws.

Junior Telisha Turner (Wilmington, Del./Harcum College) led all scorers with a game-high 27 points (17 first half) for District of Columbia on 8-of-22 shooting from the field, including 3-for-10 from beyond the arc (3-5 first half), and converting 8-of-9 free-throws to go with four rebounds. Classmate Denikka Brent (Chesapeake, Va./Booker T. Washington) was the only other Firebird in double-figures by posting a double-double of 15 points and a team-best ten rebounds on 6-of-14 shooting, converting her lone three, and draining both free-throw attempts.

Stonehill trailed by as much as ten points in the opening half, but overcame a slow shooting start to the night and trailed by just a point (34-33) at halftime with Dixon scoring the final four points of the half. Faieta opened the second half by making one of two free-throws to pull the Skyhawks even (34-34) 33-seconds in, but senior Milena Bubnjevic (Laskovac, Serbia) buried a three-pointer at the other end to put District of Columbia back in front.

Marshall canned a triple two minutes later to force another tie and then Faieta gave Stonehill the lead (39-37) with a layup after three minutes of play in the half. UDC scored the next five points to regain a three point edge (42-39) on a Shantrel Oliver (Columbia, Md./Chesapeake College) triple with 15:46 remaining.

Stonehill took over from there, holding UDC to just two points over the next eight minutes to fuel an 18-2 run to put the Skyhawks up 13 (57-44) after a layup by senior Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) with 8:37 remaining. Dixon scored eight points during that stretch, including back-to-back three-pointers around the lone Firebirds basket of the stretch, while Brown added five and Marshall canned a three in the mix.

Stonehill's lead wouldn't dip below double figures the rest of the way, stretching to 17 (66-49) with five minutes to go after five straight points from Dixon. The Skyhawks lead extended to a game-high 21 points (76-55) on two Pelletier free-throws with 1:19 left before UDC closed back within the final 18 point margin.

The teams were tied (6-6) two and a half minutes into the game, when UDC scored five straight to take a five point lead (11-6) after a Turner three-pointer five minute in. Stonehill was held without a field goal over a five minute span that allowed the Firebirds to open an eight point margin (16-8) after another Turner trey before Pelletier knocked down her 200th career three with 13:10 left in the half. UDC extended its lead to ten (21-11) when sophomore Tatyana Calhoun (Disputanta, Va./Sussex Central) made one of two at the line at the midway point of the half.

Stonehill scored eight straight, including five by Brown, to draw back within two (21-19) after a Pelletier three with 8:38 remaining in the half. UDC pushed the lead back to five (24-19) and it swayed between there and a point the rest of the frame, capped by Dixon's four straight points to close out the first half.

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