Stonehill Smothers Saint Anselm, 67-54

Senior Mike Kernan led the Skyhawks with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane) 

Skyhawks use strong defensive effort and dominate the boards to clinch first round bye in upcoming NE-10 Tournament

MANCHESTER, N.H. (February 16, 2011) – Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes in this week's NABC Division II poll and ranked third in the NCAA East Regional rankings, clinched a first round bye in the upcoming Northeast-10 Conference tournament with a commanding 67-54 victory over Saint Anselm College, ranked fourth in the region, in NE-10 men's basketball action at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium tonight.

Stonehill held Saint Anselm to 37.7-percent (20-for-53) shooting from the field, including 6-for-27 (22.2%) in the second half (0-6 from three-point range), while posting a 42-23 rebounding advantage for the night with the Hawks being limited to six offensive rebounds – just one over the first 34 minutes of the contest. The Skyhawks shot 45.1-percent (23-for-51) from the field, including 54.8% (17-31) in the first half, and outscored the hosts 19-10 at the free-throw line, draining 19-of-25 (76%) shots from the line for the night.

Junior Ivan Almeida chipped in 14 points and six boards. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)

Senior Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) led Stonehill with a double-double effort of a game-high 16 points and 14 rebounds as he made 6-of-11 shots from the field and converted all four free-throw attempts to go with two assists and a blocked shot. Junior Ivan Almeida (Praia, Cape Verde) added 14 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Brian Hamor (Guilderland, N.Y./Bishop Gibbons) contributed ten points in 19 minutes off the bench. Junior Patrick Lee (Fayetteville, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) pulled down ten rebounds to go with seven points and three blocked shots, while classmate Andre Tongo (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough) chipped in nine first half points off the bench.

Senior Thomas Baudinet (Watertown, Conn./Taft) was held to 13 points (just four second half) on 5-of-16 shooting from the field, including 1-for-4 from three-point range, in leading Saint Anselm. Freshman Allen Harris (Roslindale, Mass./Suffield Academy) added ten points and three rebounds, while junior Jack Keough (Owego, N.Y./Owego Free Academy) chipped in eight points, three boards and two steals off the bench.

Stonehill used a 12-2 second half run to extend a three-point lead (40-37) into a 13 point advantage (52-39) after a free-throw by senior Daniel Heppert (Richmond, Va./Benedictine) with 11:04 left in regulation. Kernan had four points during that stretch, while sophomore Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa./Crestwood) drained a three-pointer to push the lead into double-figures for the first time.

Saint Anselm closed within six (53-47) after a Keough free-throw with 7:15 to play, but Stonehill sealed its 20th win of the season with a 12-1 run over the next six minutes that opened a game-high 17 point (65-48) margin after two Heppert free-throws with 1:50 to play. Ten of the Skyhawks 12 points during that stretch came at the free-throw line.

In addition to becoming the first team in the region to reach 20 wins this season, the victory gives Kernan, Heppert and classmate Sean Costigan (South Portland, Maine/Cheverus) the distinction of becoming the winningest class in Stonehill history with 83 wins over the last four years, surpassing the previous record of 82 wins set by the Class of 2009. The Skyhawks Class of 2011 is now 83-33 (.716) over their career.

The first half featured three ties and 12 lead changes before Stonehill posted a 12-0 run late in the stanza that turned a four point (30-26) deficit after Harris layup with 4:17 to play into an eight point lead (38-30) with a Tongo layin off a turnover with 1:17 to go. Tongo sparked the run with a three-point play and Hamor scored seven points during that rally, including a key three-pointer to extend the lead to two possessions with 1:50 remaining.

Stonehill (20-5, 15-5 NE-10) is back in action on Saturday to host Southern New Hampshire University on Senior Day at Merkert Gymnasium at 3:30 p.m. Saint Anselm (17-7, 13-7 NE-10) travels to the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.