EASTON, Mass. – A layup by junior Christine Duffy (South Boston, Mass.) with 25 seconds to play lifted ninth-seeded Southern New Hampshire University to a 59-58 win over No. 8 seed Stonehill College in the first round of the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Championship Sunday at Merkert Gymnasium. The Penmen, who avenged a 71-62 loss to the Skyhawks eight days ago, improve to 12-15 and advance to Tuesday's quarterfinals, where they will face top-seeded Bentley University in a 7:00 contest. Stonehill sees its season come to a close at 17-11.
The win marks SNHU's second-ever Northeast-10 Tournament victory, with the other coming in 2009. The Penmen fell twice to Bentley during the regular season, losing 69-54 in November and 73-56 in Waltham on February 12.
Duffy, who played all 40 minutes, was 4-5 from the floor, connecting on both of her three-point attempts, and finished with 10 points, six assists and four rebounds. Julia Houghtaling (Franconia, N.H.) led the Penmen with 17 points and 14 rebounds, going 6-11 from the field and 4-4 at the free throw line. Michelle DeRoma (West Roxbury, Mass.) knocked down a pair of threes and registered 12 points, while Megan Smith (Smithfield, Maine) and Sloane Sorrell (Berwick, Maine) totaled nine and eight points, respectively.
Emily Rousseau led Stonehill with 15 points, while Kristen McWhirter and Mary Louise Dixon recorded 12 points apiece.
SNHU, which trailed by as many as nine points in the second half, took its first lead since early in the second half, 52-51, on a layup by Sorrell with 3:52 remaining. The two teams traded the lead four times before DeRoma put the Penmen on top 57-56 with 1:53 to go on her three pointer that initially appeared off the mark but bounced in.
Stonehill would reclaim the lead with 48 seconds to go when Rousseau came up with a steal and layup. 23 seconds later, Duffy would drive to the basket and her left-handed layup was good to make it 59-58. Rousseau would miss with 13 seconds to go and SNHU's Magdala Johnson (Sandown, N.H.) came down with the rebound.
Duffy would get fouled with eight seconds to go but missed the front end of a one-and-one. Houghtaling grabbed the rebound but stepped out of bounds, giving the hosts one final shot. Dixon would get a look at a baseline jumper as time expired, but her attempt was long.
SNHU led 27-23 at halftime but Stonehill scored the first five points of the second half to take a 28-27 lead 1:21 into the frame on a conventional three-point play by Asia Ewing. The Penmen and Skyhawks traded the lead four times before a jumper by Tania Williams with 14:56 remaining gave Stonehill a 35-34 lead.
The Skyhawks used a 9-2 run to build their largest lead, 47-38, with 9:05 to go on a pair of free throws by Priscilla Dodoo. The guests countered with a 7-0 spurt of their own, and a layup by Houghtaling with 6:50 to play cut the lead to two, 47-45.
Southern New Hampshire controlled much of the first half, opening a 12-4 lead seven minutes into the game. Stonehill cut it to one, 14-13, with 9:17 left before halftime on an Anna Griffin layup. The Penmen would rebuild a six-point advantage, 23-17, with 4:47 to on a three by DeRoma, and held a 27-23 lead at intermission.
The Penmen held a commanding 43-22 rebounding advantage, including a 12-7 edge on the offensive glass, and held the Skyhawks to 36.2% shooting for the game, helping to overcome 29 Southern New Hampshire turnovers that led to 30 Skyhawk points. SNHU shot 6-10 behind the arc and 46.9% for the contest and went 7-8 at the free throw line, while Stonehill was 13-19 at the charity stripe.