#11 Women's Basketball Hosts #16/20 USciences for Elite 8 Berth

Walsh netted a game-high 22 points in last night's NCAA Tournament win over STAC to lead the Skyhawks into their ninth regional final. (PHOTO BY Lewis Glass/SportsPix)

Top-seeded Skyhawks and No. 3-seeded Devils meet for second time at Merkert Gym Monday at 7 p.m.

2018 NCAA II East Regional Website

NCAA II Women's Basketball Championships Interactive Bracket

NCAA II Women's Basketball Championships Digital Program

EASTON, Mass. (March 11, 2018) – Top-seeded Stonehill College, ranked No. 11 in both the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll and D2SIDA Top 25 media poll, will play for a spot in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the second time in four years when it hosts third-seeded University of the Sciences in Philadelphia for the 2018 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament's East Region Championship on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium on Monday night at 7 p.m.

Admission is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students, children and senior citizens. The first 250 Stonehill students will be admitted free of charge, courtesy of Student Activities, Student Affairs and the Athletic Department, with a pregame pizza party and free giveaways starting at 6 p.m. The game will be webcast through collegetvticket.com and produced by BTV (Bridgewater Access Television Online), with Steve Zerdelian, Charlie Bergeron and Doug DeBiase calling the action. Links to the webcast and live stats are available at stonehillskyhawks.com.

The winner of Monday night's regional final will earn a spot in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, March 19-23. Stonehill (28-3, 20-1 NE10), hosting the NCAA regional just the second time in program history and first since 1995, will compete in the regional final for the ninth time in program history, having also played in the final during its last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015. The Skyhawks seek a third trip to the Elite Eight, but its first since 1995 when it made the second of two-straight appearances after an 83-69 triumph over Saint Anselm College in Merkert Gym. Stonehill's 24 NCAA Tournament appearances rank fourth all-time in NCAA Division II history, having reached the regional championship 1987, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2009 and 2015.

USciences (30-3, 17-2 CACC) will play in its first regional championship on Monday night in its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. The Devils reached the final after defeating sixth-seeded LIU Post, 61-50, in Friday's opening game and then dismissing second-seeded and No. 6/9 Bentley University, 61-54, last night. Senior Sarah Abbonizio (West Chester, Pennsylvania/Episcopal Academy) and junior Alex Thomas (Hockessin, Delaware/St. Elizabeth) combined for 36 points to lead USciences over Bentley, with Abbonizio scoring a game-high 20 points to go with seven rebounds and two assists, while Thomas netted 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including both three-pointers, with five boards.

Grip is averaging 4.2 blocks per game in the postseason and contributed ten points last night. (PHOTO BY Mike Broglio/SportsPix)

Stonehill has advanced to the regional final after cruising to a 70-45 victory over eighth-seeded Southern Connecticut State University on Friday evening and then battling past fourth-seeded Saint Thomas Aquinas College, 63-52 last night. Senior Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic) led the Skyhawks with a game-high 22 points last night, while classmate Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) is averaging 16.5 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal through the first two NCAA Tournament games.

Tomorrow night will mark just the second meeting all-time between these two programs, both of which have come this season. USciences notched a 71-56 victory over Stonehill back on December 28 in Philadelphia as Abbonizio scored a game-high 26 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, including 4-for-6 from three-point distance, while converting 10-of-11 free-throws, and adding five rebounds in the contest. Thomas contributed 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Senior Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) fell just a rebound shy of a double-double with a team-best 13 points for Stonehill, aided by 9-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line, with a game-high nine rebounds. Martin added eight points, six rebounds and two assists.

Stonehill was limited to a season-low 30.2-percent shooting (19-for-63) from the field, including 4-for-24 (16.7%) from three-point distance, despite posting a 45-35 rebounding advantage that produced an 18-4 edge in second chance points. USciences connected on 40.7% (22-54) of its shots, including 9-21 (42.9%) from beyond the arc, converting 18-21 (85.7%) free-throws.

Stonehill, which won its ninth Northeast-10 Conference regular season championship with a program record for NE10 wins, carries a 17-0 record at Merkert Gym this season into tomorrow night's regional final, having won five-straight NCAA Tournament games at home dating back to 1985. The Skyhawks have won 18 of their last 19 since the loss to USciences just prior to the New Year. Stonehill's 28 wins mark the 25th time in program history it has reached or surpassed 20 wins in a season, and the win total is two behind a program-record 30-3 mark in 1994-95.

Stonehill, 5-2 at home in the NCAA Tournament overall, ranks second in the NE10 for scoring offense (70.3 ppg) and scoring defense (57.3 ppg), leading the Conference in field goal percentage defense (.339) and blocked shots per game (6.9), ranking second for three-point percentage defense (.255). The Skyhawks also lead the NE10 in free-throw percentage (.768) and assists per game (18.6), ranking second in rebound margin (+7.2) and third in field goal percentage (.421). Stonehill leads Division II in blocked shots per game, ranking third in field goal percentage defense, ninth for three-point FG percentage defense, seventh in assists per game and 21st in scoring defense.

Stonehill is averaging 66.5 points per game through the first two regional contests, but shooting at a higher percentage (.445) than its season average, and has limited its first two opponents to 48.5 points on 29.5% shooting, including 16.3% (7-for-43) from beyond the arc.

Martin is averaging 18.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, four assists and a steal in the postseason for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Mike Broglio/SportsPix)

Martin, the NE10 Player of the year, headlines a trio of All-NE10 seniors, which includes fellow All-NE10 selections Hyslip and Walsh. Martin, who earned All-Tournament team honors at the 2015 NCAA East Regional, fills the stat sheet with 16.3 points (5th NE10), 7.0 rebounds (12th), 5.0 assists (2nd) and 1.1 steals in 34-minutes per game, and shooting 84-percent (110-for-131) from the free-throw line (3rd). Hyslip leads inside with 13.2 points (13th), 8.4 rebounds (7th) and 1.9 assists per game, shooting 48.3% from the floor (5th) and 79.7% (98-123) from the free-throw line (12th). Walsh, who enters Monday night ten points shy of joining her two classmates and becoming the program's 32nd 1,000-point scorer, contributes on the perimeter with 11.7 points on 40.3% shooting, including 36.9% (76-206) 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 who also earned a spot on the NE10 All-Championship team last weekend, spearheads the Skyhawks defense inside with an NE10-high 3.7 blocked shots per game, ranking sixth nationally in Division II, while chipping in with 5.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per outing. She has blocked five or more shots 11 times this season, giving her a school-record 114 blocks for the season, now good for eighth on the NE10's single-season list. Grip is contributing eight points, four rebounds and four blocks per game so far at the regional, shooting 66.7% (8-for-12), and has averaged 8.2 points, five rebounds and 4.2 blocks in the Skyhawks five postseason games.

USciences, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) regular season and tournament champions, are winners of five-straight in making its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Devils rank fourth nationally in Division II for scoring defense, yielding 53.7 points per game, while scoring 66.6 points per game, shooting 40.7-percent from the field, including 35.5% from three-point distance while averaging 28.3 three-point attempts per game (and connecting on ten per game). The Devils are shooting 80.5% from the free-throw line, while limiting opponents to 36.2% shooting, including 29.4% from beyond the arc.

Abbonizio, the CACC Player of the Year, and Thomas, also an All-CACC first team selection, lead the way for USciences, combining for 30.6 points per game – roughly 50-percent of the Devils scoring. Abbonizio averages 15.5 points on 43.3% shooting, converting 80.9% of her free-throws, with 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals, while Thomas adds 15.1 points on 44.5% shooting, including 40.1% (63-for-157) from deep, converting 88.9% (88-99) of her free-throws with 4.2 rebounds per game.

Sophomore Jordan Vitelli (Warrington, Pennsylvania/Central Bucks South) rounds out USciences double-figure scorers with 11 points per game on 40.5% shooting, including 36.7% (76-for-207) from beyond the arc, converting 88.7% (63-71) of her free-throws. Senior Laura Trisch (Doylestown, Pennsylvania/Archbishop Wood) pulls down a team-high 6.1 rebounds with 1.2 blocked shots per game.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market. 

2018 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament
East Regional
hosted by Stonehill College
Merkert Gymnasium, Easton, Mass.

Friday, March 9
Regional Quarterfinals

#3 USciences 61, #6 LIU Post 50
#2 Bentley 71, #7 Jefferson 66
#1 Stonehill 70, #8 Southern Conn. State 45
#4 St. Thomas Aquinas 61, #5 Caldwell 45

Saturday, March 10
Regional Semifinals

#3 USciences 61, #2 Bentley 54
#1 Stonehill 63, #4 St. Thomas Aquinas 52 

Monday, March 12
Regional Championship

#3 USciences (30-3, 17-2 CACC) at #1 Stonehill (28-3, 20-1 NE10), 7 p.m.