Skyhawks and Falcons to battle for title for seventh time, first since 1998
Hyslip is averaging 17 points and 7.5 rebounds in the NE10 Tournament so far, shooting 60-percent from the floor. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)
EASTON, Mass. (March 3, 2018) – Regular season champions and Northeast Division top-seeded Stonehill College, ranked No. 6 in this week's D2SIDA Top 25 Media Poll and No. 13 in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, shoots for its first Northeast-10 Conference Championship in ten years as it takes on Northeast No. 2 Bentley University, ranked 12th in the WBCA poll and 14th in the D2SIDA poll, in the 2018 NE10 Women's Basketball Championship. Sunday's game has been moved to Chace Recreation and Fitness Center on the campus of Bryant University due to the continued power outage on the Stonehill campus due to this weekend's nor'easter. More details & link to directions here.
Admission will be $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for children and senior citizens and $1.00 for students from participating institutions with a valid college ID. Stonehill students will be admitted free of charge with their HillCard, courtesy of the Department of Athletics and Student Affairs. Student Activities will hold a pre-game party at 1:30 p.m., with free pizza and other giveaways. A live video webcast of the game will be available via northeast10.tv, with links to the stream and live stats also available at stonehillskyhawks.com. Steve Zerdelian, Charlie Bergeron and Jacob Van Ryn will have the call of the action for Northeast10.tv.
Sunday will mark the 108th edition of one of New England's best college basketball rivalries, the 27th in postseason play and 15th in the NE10 Tournament. Bentley holds a 69-38 advantage in the all-time series, posting an 18-8 record against Stonehill in postseason play, including a 9-5 edge in the NE10 Tournament. It will be the seventh battle between the two rivals in the NE10 Championship game, but the first since 1998. Bentley has won four of the six previous NE10 title bouts between the two long-time rivals, including a 70-54 decision in the 1998 title game in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Stonehill (26-2, 20-1 NE10), ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division II East Regional rankings released this week, is the only program to compete in all 37 NE10 Tournaments since the Conference began sponsoring the championship in 1982. The Skyhawks are making their 11th appearance in the NE10 Championship, seeking their first title since 2008, having also won the tournament in 1983, '87, '95, and 1997. Stonehill was to host the NE10 Championship at Merkert Gym for the fifth time in program history, but first since its last event win in 2008, prior to the weekend's weather issues. The Skyhawks are 5-5 all-time in NE10 Championship games, including a 58-53 win over Bentley in 1987. Stonehill's last NE10 Championship appearance was a 70-59 setback at Franklin Pierce University in 2010, just two years after defeating Bryant University 90-79 in Easton in 1998.
Bentley (26-3, 18-3 NE10), winners of five of the last seven NE10 Championships, has reached the title game for the eighth time over the last ten years and Conference-record 28th time overall. The Falcons seek their record 20th championship in 36 NE10 Tournament appearances, having last won two years ago with a 67-60 decision over American International College.
Martin averaged 19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists in the two regular season meetings between Stonehill and Bentley. (PHOTO BY Mike Tureski/SportsPix)
Stonehill and Bentley split their regular season series, with each winning at home. Bentley held off Stonehill 84-73 in their NE10 opener back in Waltham on November 15, while the Skyhawks answered with a 77-66 triumph in Easton on January 31. Senior guard Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate), the NE10 Player of the Year, averaged 19.5 points, converting 90.0-percent (10-for-11) of her free-throws, with seven rebounds, six assists and 1.5 steals over the two games against Bentley, while junior Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) averaged a double-double with 19 points and 13.5 rebounds per game against the Skyhawks, shooting 48.3-percent from the floor. The bulk of Lux's damage came in the Waltham win in which she tallied 24 points and 21 rebounds.
Stonehill reached the NE10 Championship in varying ways, jumping out early lead and rolling to a 90-65 victory over Southwest No. 4 Adelphi University in the quarterfinals on Sunday, before rallying from a 12-point deficit late in the third quarter to grind out a 58-55 decision against Southwest No. 2 Le Moyne College in Thursday's semifinals. Senior Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) is averaging 17 points on 60-percent shooting (12-for-20), converting 10-of-11 free-throws (90.9%), and 7.5 rebounds over the Skyhawks two NE10 Tournament wins, while Martin is contributing 16 points, six rebounds, 4.5 assists and a steal, while shooting 43.5% from the floor, including 6-for-14 (42.9%) from three-point distance.
Bentley opened the NE10 Tournament by outscoring Southwest No. 3 Pace University 22-9 in the fourth quarter to claim a 70-62 quarterfinal win, before withstanding some second-half charges from Southwest No. 1 Southern Connecticut State University for a 64-51 road win in the semifinals. Junior forward Lauren Green (Sevenoaks, England) came off the bench to match her career-high with 21 points, to go with a season-high 11 rebounds in the semifinal win for the Falcons.
Stonehill, winners of its last 17, won its ninth NE10 regular season championship in program history with a program-record 20 NE10 wins. The Skyhawks also captured regular season titles in 1984-85, 1986-87, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96, 2007-08 and 2014-15. Stonehill's 26 wins mark the 25th time in program history it has reached or surpassed 20 wins in a season – the tenth in head coach Trisha Brown's 17 seasons in charge. The Skyhawks overall win total is four behind a program-record 30-3 mark in 1994-95, Stonehill's second Elite Eight season.
Stonehill ranks second in the NE10 for scoring offense (70.5 ppg) and third for scoring defense (57.4 ppg), leading the Conference in field goal percentage defense (.342) and blocked shots per game (6.9), which also leads Division II, ranking second for three-point percentage defense (.261). The Skyhawks also lead the NE10 in free-throw percentage (.764) and assists per game (18.6), ranking second in rebound margin (+7.4) and third in field goal percentage (.420). Stonehill leads Division II in blocked shots per game, ranking fifth in field goal percentage defense, seventh for three-point FG percentage defense, seventh in assists per game and 19th in scoring defense.
Walsh enters tomorrow's championship just one three-pointer shy of 200 for her career. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)
Brown, the NE10 Coach of the Year for the fourth time in her career, who coached her 500th game at Stonehill on Thursday night, is led by a trio of All-NE10 seniors in Martin, a first team honoree, as well as second team All-NE10 selections Hyslip and Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic). Martin fills the stat sheet with 15.8 points (5th NE10), 6.9 rebounds (12th), 5.2 assists (2nd) and 1.1 steals in 33.7 minutes per game, shooting 83.7-percent (103-for-123) from the free-throw line (4th). Hyslip leads inside with 13.6 points (10th), 8.4 rebounds (7th) and 1.8 assists per game, shooting 50.3% from the floor (4th) and 79.8% (87-109) from the free-throw line (12th). Walsh contributes on the perimeter with 11.5 points on 40.4% shooting, including 37.3% (69-185) from three-point range (6th), with 2.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
Senior Elizabeth Grip (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts/Shrewsbury), the NE10 Defensive Player of the Year, spearheads the Skyhawks defense inside with an NE10-high 3.5 blocked shots per game, ranking sixth nationally in Division II, while chipping in with 5.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. She enters tomorrow night with a school-record 99 blocked shots, looking to become just the ninth player in NE10 history to reach 100 blocks in a season. Sophomores Grace Carter (Arlington, Massachusetts/Arlington) and Gabrielle Reuter (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Lawrence Academy) add support of the Stonehill seniors. Carter is averaging 6.7 points, 2.3 rebound and 3.1 assists per game, while Reuter contributes 6.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks off the bench.
Bentley, ranked No. 2 in this week's NCAA Division II East Regional rankings, enters Sunday's championship winners of six straight. The Falcons are the top scoring team in the NE10 at 74.5 points per game, ranking second in field goal percentage (.427), three-point percentage (.343) and assists per game (17.4). Bentley is fourth in the NE10 for scoring defense (58.2 ppg), leading the Conference in rebound margin (+8.7) and ranking third in field goal percentage defense (.358) and fifth for three-point percentage defense (.278).
Bentley head coach Barbara Stevens, who recently won her 1,000th career game, brings a Conference-leading four All-NE10 selections into Sunday's game. Lux, a first team All-NE10 pick, leads the Falcons with 13.5 points (11th NE10), 9.4 rebounds (4th) and a blocked shot per game, shooting 46.6% from the floor (11th). Postgrad Becca Musgrove (Plainview, New York/St. Anthony's), a second team All-NE10 selection, adds 11.8 points on 44.6% shooting, with 3.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game, while Green, a third team All-Conference honoree, contributes 10.3 points on 43% shooting, including 40.6% (58-for-143) from beyond the arc (3rd), and 1.8 assists.
Senior Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, California/Windward School), an honorable mention All-NE10 performer, chips in with 7.1 points, converting 84.1% (58-69) of her free-throws (3rd), 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists (5th) and 1.7 steals (7th) per contest. Sophomore Monica Viapiano (Holden, Massachusetts/Holy Name) averages 7.4 points on 53.2% shooting in 13 minutes off the bench, adding 4.8 rebounds per contest.
The winner of Sunday's Championship game will earn the NE10's automatic bid to next week's NCAA Division II Tournament. Regardless of the result, both teams are locks to at least earn an at large bid when the selection show airs on ncaa.com Sunday night at 10 p.m. The top overall seed and hosting rights for next week's East Regional could also be up for grabs after Bentley's move up to No. 2 in this week's rankings.
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2018 Northeast-10 Conference
Women's Basketball Tournament
Friday, February 23
NE #4 Southern New Hampshire 75, SW #5 Saint Rose 62
SW #4 Adelphi 66, NE #5 Merrimack 50
Quarterfinals - Sunday, February 25
SW #2 Le Moyne 77, NE #3 Saint Anselm 49
NE #2 Bentley 70, SW #3 Pace 62
NE #1 Stonehill 90, SW #4 Adelphi 65
SW #1 Southern Conn. State 75, NE #4 Southern N.H. 64
Semifinals - Thursday, March 1 (at highest remaining seeds)
NE #1 Stonehill 58, SW #2 Le Moyne 55
NE #2 Bentley 64, SW #1 Southern Conn. State 51
Championship - Sunday, March 4 (at Chace Recreation and Fitness Center, Bryant University, Smithfield, R.I.)
NE #2 Bentley (26-3, 18-3 NE10) vs. NE #1 Stonehill (26-2, 20-1 NE10), 1 p.m.
* - if same seed, site determined by winner of regular-season matchup