Fourth Quarter Rally Lifts Merrimack Past Women's Basketball, 61-56

Junior Kelly Martin led the Skyhawks with a game-high 20 points. (PHOTO BY Lewis Glass/SportsPix)

Warriors push past Skyhawks in fourth quarter, with Ward leading balanced effort

EASTON, Mass. (February 9, 2016) – Merrimack College outscored Stonehill College by 11 points in the fourth quarter on its way to a 61-56 victory in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Senior forward Madison Ward (Binghamton, New York/Binghamton) was the lone Merrimack player in double-figures, leading a balanced effort with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor, converting all three free-throws, to go with four rebounds (three offensive). Senior Ashley Weissmann (Highland, California/Summit) led three Warriors who netted nine points, making 4-of-8 shots from the floor, to go with six rebounds, while classmate Caitlyn Garger (Hicksville, New York/Hicksville) added nine points, four boards and two blocked shots. Freshman Hannah Neild (Litchfield, New Hampshire/Campbell) also registered nine points in 12 minutes off the bench, while senior Tia Scott (New York, New York/Suffield Academy) grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists and seven steals.

Junior guard Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) led Stonehill with a game-high 20 points (12 second half) on 6-of-13 shooting, converting 7-of-8 free-throws, with five rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic) was the only other Skyhawk in double-figures with ten first half points, two assists, two blocks and a steal, while senior Shannon Brown (Las Vegas, Nevada/Centennial) chipped in nine points and six boards (four offensive).

Merrimack shot 40.7-percent from the field (24-for-49), including 9-for-18 (50%) in the fourth quarter as it rallied from an eight point deficit. The Warriors converted 10-of-13 (76.9%) free-throws, including 6-of-7 in the fourth quarter, finishing with a 22-15 advantage in points off turnovers with their bench outscoring the Stonehill reserves 19-4. The Skyhawks were limited to 36.2-percent from the floor (21-for-58), including 4-for-12 (33.3%) from three-point distance.

Sophomore Courtney Walsh contributed ten first half points. (PHOTO BY Lewis Glass/SportsPix)

Merrimack rallied from a ten point deficit late in the third quarter and trailed by eight (44-36) after a Stonehill layup from sophomore Elizabeth Grip (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts/Shrewsbury) a minute into the fourth quarter. The Warriors used an 11-2 run to regain the lead (47-46) after a layup by freshman Lexi Martin (Franklin, Massachusetts/Franklin) with 5:43 still to play.

Martin pushed Stonehill back in front on its next possession, but Ward converted a three-point play to put the Warriors back on top (50-48) midway through the quarter. The teams traded baskets until the Warriors netted six straight to open a four point cushion (56-52) on a Garger jumper with 1:32 on the clock. Brown pulled the Skyhawks back within two on the ensuing possession, but Garger drained two free-throws to restore the Warriors two possession lead with 13-seconds left after a Stonehill miss on a chance to draw even the possession prior.

Senior Paige Marshall (Braintree, Massachusetts/Braintree) scored a layup to bring Stonehill within two with seven seconds left. Weissmann was fouled and made just one of two at the line to give the Skyhawks one more chance to force overtime, but they turned the ball over and then Scott sealed the win with a pair of free-throws with two seconds to go.

Stonehill (12-11, 7-10 NE-10) is right back in action here at Merkert Gym on Saturday when it hosts Assumption College for its "Play 4 Kay" Game to promote breast cancer awareness at 1:30 p.m. Merrimack (10-13, 6-11 NE-10) hosts Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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