Bloomfield reaches first regional final
Deacons shoots 53.3 percent in the second half
WALTHAM, Mass. – The seventh-seeded Bloomfield College Deacons advanced to the regional final for the first time in program history with a 79-66 victory over the third-seeded Stonehill College Skyhawks in the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II East Regional at the Dana Athletic Center.
The Deacons (23-8, 15-3 CACC) will play host Bentley University on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Stonehill finishes its season with a 22-8 record (16-6 Northeast-10). The Skyhawks finished tied for second in the conference and earned a third-consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.
Senior guard Gage Daye poured in a game-high 31 points to lead Bloomfield as he made 10-of-18 shots from the field, including 3-for-5 from three-point range, and converted 8-of-9 free throw attempts to go with four rebounds and four assists. Classmate Ryan Rodrigues added 15 second half points, four rebounds and three assists. Kevin Udo contributed 14 points (7-of-9 shooting), nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Mike Kernan notched his tenth double-double of the year (19th career) for Stonehill with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, including the 900th of his career. He is one of just three players in the program’s NE-10 era to surpass 900 rebounds (901) to go with 1,055 career points, good for 30th all-time.
Ivan Almeida led all Stonehill scorers with 16 points, shooting 7-for-12 from the field, and eight rebounds. Daniel Heppert added 15 points and five boards, while Brian Hamor chipped in 13 points, two rebounds and two assists off the bench.
Bloomfield shot 46.7 percent (28-for-60) from the field, including 53.3 percent (16-30) in the second half, and went 18-of-21 from the free-throw line (85.7 percent). The Deacons turned 17 Stonehill turnovers into a 15-10 advantage in points off turnovers (10-0 in the second half), while also enjoying a 23-13 advantage in bench points. The Skyhawks shot 37.1-percent (23-for-62) from the field, including 4-for-19 (21.1%) from three-point range, making just one of their last 16. Stonehill made 16-of-22 (72.7%) free-throws and posted a 42-34 rebounding edge.
Stonehill led by three (33-30) at halftime and opened a five point lead (39-34) when Lee made one of two at the line with 16:27 to go in the half. Bloomfield reeled off a 7-0 run, keyed by five points from Rodrigues to take the lead (41-39) with 14:05 left. The lead went back and forth until the Deacons opened a five point cushion (49-44) with a Udo layup with 11:52 to play.
Stonehill closed within two (51-49) after a pair of Heppert free-throws with 8:52 remaining, but Bloomfield quickly regained a six point lead (55-49) on a Rodrigues layup with 8:13 on the clock. Bloomfield answered again, taking a seven point lead (62-55) with a three-pointer by Art Ellis with 5:28 remaining. The Skyhawks wouldn’t go away and drew within four (66-62) when Almeida put back a missed three with a dunk at the 2:09 mark, but that would be as close as they would get.
Bloomfield sealed the win by making 11-of-12 free throws the rest of the way while Stonehill made just 2-of-7 shots down the stretch and committed two turnovers as the Deacons stretched the lead to 14 in the final minute.
Stonehill held the early momentum, taking a six point lead (17-11) with 13:35 left in the first half after back-to-back 3-pointers by Hamor. The Deacons responded with a 12-2 run to take its first lead of the night and extended it to four (23-19) after a Udo put back with 9:38 left before halftime.
Stonehill answered with a 6-0 run to regain the lead (25-23) on an Almeida jumper with 6:06 left. Bloomfield took the lead back (28-27) with a jumper from Matt Wafula with 3:47 left before intermission. The Skyhawks closed out the half with a 6-2 spurt to take the three point lead into the break after four straight points by Sam Markle.