Women's Basketball Pulls Away from Merrimack, Secures NE-10 Playoff Berth

MANCHESTER, N.H.Julia Houghtaling (Franconia, N.H.) registered 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds as Southern New Hampshire University pulled away late for a 69-61 Northeast-10 women's basketball victory against Merrimack College Wednesday night at the SNHU Fieldhouse.  The Penmen broke a seven-game slide to improve to 11-15 overall and 9-13 in the Northeast-10, while the Warriors are now 10-16 and 8-14 in the league.

With the win, the Penmen broke a four-way tie for ninth place in the conference and earned the No. 9 seed in the Northeast-10 Tournament that starts Sunday.  SNHU will travel to No. 8 Stonehill College on Sunday at 1:00 for a first round contest.  The Penmen and Skyhawks split a pair of meetings this season.

Houghtaling notched her 11th double-double of the season by going 5-10 from the floor and 9-12 at the free throw line, pacing three Penmen in double figures.  Sloane Sorrell (Berwick, Maine) totaled 15 points and five rebounds, going 6-12 from the field, while Christine Duffy (South Boston, Mass.) notched 11 points and seven assists.  Michelle DeRoma (West Roxbury, Mass.) and Megan Smith (Smithfield, Maine) totaled nine and eight points, respectively, while Magdala Johnson (Sandown, N.H.) dished out seven assists.

Gennifer Roy led Merrimack with 15 points, including the 1,000th of her career.  Taneka Brown finished with 13 points, while Tiffany Colon added 11 points.

SNHU led much of the second half, but found itself tied at 51 with 5:37 to play following a layup by Merrimack's Valerie Avebe.  The Penmen would then go on a 9-2 run and five straight points by Sorrell, capped by a jumper with 2:23 left, gave SNHU a 60-53 lead.  The run grew to 14-2 to give the hosts a 65-53 lead on a pair of Houghtaling free throws with 53 seconds left.  Southern New Hampshire secured the win by going 9-12 at the charity stripe in the final 1:18.

The Penmen, who led 29-25 at halftime, would go up by six three times, the latest on a layup by Duffy with 13:36 to go that made it 40-34.  Merrimack ran off seven unanswered points and took a 41-40 lead with 12:09 left on a steal and layup by Brown.  SNHU reclaimed the lead a minute later when a conventional three-point play by Houghtaling made it 43-41.

The two teams traded the lead four times in the first half, but Southern New Hampshire used a 9-0 run capped by a three by DeRoma with 3:15 to go before halftime to build a 25-18 lead.  Merrimack would chip away at the lead and get it down to four, 29-25, at halftime.

Southern New Hampshire shot 54.5% in the second half and 50% for the contest while holding the Warriors to 34.9% shooting for the contest.  The Penmen were 4-8 behind the arc and outrebounded Merrimack 41-28.  The hosts also went to the free throw line 13 more times, going 19-26 while Merrimack was 9-13 at the stripe.