Stonehill will honor its four seniors in a Senior Night ceremony prior to Saturday night's matchup with Bentley. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)
Senior Day battle on Paula Sullivan Court set for 5 p.m., tip
EASTON, Mass. (February 19, 2015) – Regarded as one of the top small college rivalries in the country, the women's basketball programs from Stonehill College and Bentley University will square off for the 100th time when the two meet for a Northeast-10 Conference battle on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Admission to Saturday's game is $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for senior citizens and high school and college students, with children younger admitted free of charge. Alumnae of the women's basketball programs at both Stonehill and Bentley will be admitted free of charge as well. A live video webcast will be available at www.stonehillskyhawks.tv for $7.95, with Charlie Bergeron and Brian Buckley calling the action, with live stats also available at www.stonehillskyhawks.com.
Stonehill (20-3, 16-3 NE-10), which has already clinched the Northeast-10's Northeast Division Championship Bentley held the previous four years, is ranked No. 8 in this week's D2SIDA Top 25 Media Poll and 10th in the USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, but most importantly is ranked No. 1 in the first NCAA Division II East Regional rankings released on Wednesday. The Skyhawks are winners of 15 of their last 17 will be looking to rebound from an 81-71 setback at Franklin Pierce University on Wednesday night.
Stonehill and Bentley are the only two programs in NE-10 history to qualify for each of the previous 33 Conference Tournaments and while the Skyhawks have punched their ticket for a record 34th NE-10 postseason appearance, the Falcons still have work to do to keep pace. Bentley is currently in a three-way tie for the fifth and final spot in the NE-10 Tournament from the Northeast Division along with Saint Anselm College and Saint Michael's College. However, the Purple Knights hold the tiebreaker between the three schools with a 3-1 record against the other two, while Bentley in 2-2 and Saint Anselm 1-3 against the other two schools this season.
Senior Tori Faieta leads the Skyhawks into their 100th meeting with rival Bentley on Saturday. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)
Of the 99 previous meetings between the two traditional regional powers, 26 have come in postseason play, with 14 in the NE-10 Tournament and 12 in the NCAA Tournament. Bentley holds a 63-36 advantage in the all-time series which dates back to 1974-75, having posted an 18-8 record against Stonehill in postseason play, going 9-5 in the NE-10 Tournament and 9-3 in the NCAA Tournament. The Skyhawks rolled to an 81-67 triumph in the first regular season meeting of the season between the two teams back on November 22 in Waltham, Mass., after the Falcons had raised their National Championship banner during a pregame ceremony.
Senior Tori Faieta (Lynn, Massachusetts/Saint Mary's) and junior Paige Marshall (Braintree, Massachusetts/Braintree) combined for 46 points to lead Stonehill, which shot 55.2-percent (32-for-58) from the field, including 10-for-24 (41.7%) from three-point range in the win. Faieta scored a game-high 25 points (17 first half) on 11-of-15 shooting to go with a team-high eight rebounds, a season-best five blocked shots and two assists. Marshall added a career-high 21 points (12 second half) on 8-of-11 shooting, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc while converting both free-throw attempts to go with four rebounds, four steals and two assists. Sophomore Jen Gemma (Milton, Massachusetts/Fontbonne Academy) led Bentley with a double-double effort of 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds (eight offensive) on 7-of-21 shooting and three assists.
The November win was Stonehill's first at the Dana Center since February 24, 2010, and the largest margin of victory in Waltham over the Falcons since a 96-78 triumph during the 1994-95 season. The Skyhawks last swept the regular season series against Bentley during the 2008-09 season, capped by an epic 87-82 triumph in quadruple overtime at Merkert Gym.
Faieta leads four Stonehill players in double figures, averaging a double-double with 15 points and ten rebounds per game to go with two blocked shots and 1.8 assists. Sophomore Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) adds 13.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game, while senior Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Massachusetts/Bishop Fenwick) is contributing 11 points, shooting 38.6-percent (56-for-145) from three-point range. Marshall rounds out the double figure scorers with 10.2 points, 3.3 boards, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals per contest.
Junior Paige Marshall scored a career-high 21 points in the first meeting this season between the two teams in November. (PHOTO BY Lewis Glass/SportsPix)
Stonehill ranks third in the NE-10 for scoring offense (71 ppg) and scoring defense (61.5 ppg), ranking fourth in field goal percentage (.438) and three-point field goal percentage (.351) and second in free-throw percentage (.763). The Skyhawks rank fourth in the league for field goal percentage defense (.380) and third for three-point field goal percentage defense (.278), leading the league in assists per game (17.4) and assist/turnover ratio (+1.1).
Bentley (11-14, 6-13 NE-10) in jeopardy of finishing below .500 for the first time in the program's 39 year history has shown improvement of late with four wins over its last six after a 75-62 victory over Southern New Hampshire University on Wednesday night to keep pace in the league standings. After winning its first national championship in program history with seven seniors/postgrads last season, the Falcons roster has just two seniors this winter.
Gemma leads Bentley by averaging a double-double with 19.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game to go with 2.0 assists, a blocked shot and steal per game. Freshman Lauren Green (Damascus, Maryland/Damascus) is contributing 11.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals.
Stonehill and Bentley have combined to make 53 NCAA Tournament appearances over their storied histories. The Falcons have a Division II record 31 NCAA bids, while the Skyhawks rank fourth all-time in Division II women's basketball history with 22 NCAA appearances. The programs have also won a combined 15 regional championships and 23 NE-10 Tournament titles.
Prior to Saturday's game, Stonehill will recognize its four seniors who will be playing in their final regular season home game: Faieta, Pelletier and classmates Ashley Gendron (Auburn, New Hampshire/Manchester Memorial) and Jamie Panton (Williston, Vermont/Essex)
Following the 100th Stonehill/Bentley women's basketball matchup on Saturday night, the men's teams will square off at Merkert Gym at 7 p.m. The Skyhawks (17-8, 12-7 NE-10), who clinched a spot in the upcoming NE-10 Tournament last night, are ranked eighth in the NCAA II East Regional rankings, while the Falcons (15-10, 10-9 NE-10) are ranked tenth.