BROCKTON ENTERPRISE: "Stonehill women’s basketball team on eight-game winning streak"

Martin has shined in her return from injury leading the Skyhawks in scoring and assists, while ranking second in rebounding. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

The Skyhawks, bolstered by the return of all-conference guard Kelly Martin, have not lost since opening night.

BY Jim Fenton

The Stonehill College women's basketball team began the season a month ago with a loss at nationally ranked Bentley University.

That remains the only blemish on the Skyhawks' record.

Stonehill has an eight-game winning streak going heading into Sunday afternoon's non-conference road matchup with Pace University.

The Skyhawks (8-1, 6-1 in the Northeast-10 Conference) are now receiving votes in the national Division 2 poll and are already approaching last season's win total of 12.

The return of graduate student Kelly Martin, who suffered a season-ending injury just before the opener last year, has bolstered Stonehill.

Martin tore ligaments and displaced a bone in her left foot during a scrimmage. She made the all-conference third team as a sophomore and second team as a junior, averaging 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists.

The Scituate resident has picked up where she left off despite a one-year absence, averaging 16.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists to help the Skyhawks move into a first-place tie with Bentley in the Northeast Division.

Hyslip is nearly averaging a double-double-double for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Peter Buehner)

"The return of Kelly Martin really has made the difference just in terms of her ability at both ends to affect plays and obviously she's scoring really well,″ said coach Trisha Brown. "I really have noticed she is definitely thinking the game differently.

"That year on the bench really helped her have a different view of making everybody around her better. That's made a huge difference for her.″

Samantha Hyslip, whose role increased last season with Martin out, is averaging 14.6 points and nine rebounds.

"Sam's just a workhorse,″ said Brown. "You don't even notice, and then you see the stat line at the end of the game and she's got a double-double. "She's making it hard to guard us because we can go inside and outside. That's been helpful in terms of our scoring.″

The other starters are Courtney Walsh (nine points), Kelsey Shaw and Elizabeth Grip while sophomores Gabrielle Reuter of Plymouth (8.0 points) and Grace Carter (7.3) are contributing off the bench.

"The kids who were roles players last year have really stepped up,″ said Brown. "Gabby Reuter and Grace Carter are really playing well. They had minimal roles as freshmen and have brought a lot of strength at both ends.″

Stonehill is coming off impressive road wins at Southern New Hampshire and Roberts Wesleyan College.

"We knew we had a lot of potential, a lot of talent,″ said Brown. "Our wins at Southern New Hampshire and Roberts Wesleyan, those were really really tough road wins. You just see a different confidence with our team now. I think we're definitely in for a very fun season overall.″

After playing Pace this weekend, Stonehill will have 10 days off before traveling to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, ranked 24th in the nation with a 7-1 record, on Dec. 28.