PREVIEW: NCAA Division II East Region Semifinal - Saint Anselm vs. Stonehill

PREVIEW: NCAA Division II East Region Semifinal - Saint Anselm vs. Stonehill

PHILADELPHIA - The Saint Anselm College women's basketball team (20-9), the seventh seed in the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball East Regional, stunned second-seeded and nationally-ranked Bentley University (28-4) on Friday by a 59-40 margin. With the upset, the Hawks have earned the right to battle the sixth-ranked Skyhawks from Stonehill College (20-9) in the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II East Region Championship on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the University of the Sciences.

Saint Anselm reached the 20-win threshold for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign, having racked up at least 17 victories in each of the last four seasons. The Hawks, making their eighth appearance in the NCAA Division II Championship, will look to carry Friday's momentum into Saturday's game against an opponent they have lost two twice during the regular season.

Stonehill had an upset victory of their own, downing the third-seeded women's basketball program from Jefferson (29-3), winners of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference tournament championship. The Skyhawks shot north of 53% from the floor and controlled the glass, 49-to-38, en route to the victory.

Saint Anselm has never won a regional championship in women's basketball. The Division II Women's Elite Eight will be played in Columbus, Ohio beginning on Tuesday, Mar. 26.

LAST TIME OUT: Saint Anselm recorded a convincing 59-40 victory in the NCAA Division II East Region Championship Quarterfinals.

Sophomore Peyton Steinman (Pittsfield, Mass.) led Saint Anselm with 21 points and seven rebounds. Junior Shannon Ryan (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) had 10 points, pulling down five rebounds and throwing up four blocks, with senior Ashley Briggs (Scarborough, Maine) recording nine points and pouring home two three-point baskets.

A stout Hawks defense kept Bentley to only 16 made field goals in the contest and to only eight points in the first half, earning Saint Anselm's first NCAA postseason victory since Mar. 4, 1999, a 59-51 win over Franklin Pierce in Waltham, Mass. in the quarterfinal round. Bentley falls to the Hawks in NCAA Tournament play for the first time since Mar. 10, 1995. [MORE]

LAST TIME OUT vs. STONEHILL: Saint Anselm capped the regular season with a loss at Stonehill on Feb. 26, falling by a 60-48 score.

Steinman led all Hawks scorers with 17 points. Ryan scored 16 points and added 15 rebounds in the loss with sophomore Grace Guachione (Pittsfield, Mass.) tallying six points off the bench.

Ahead by four points heading into the fourth quarter, Stonehill scored the stanza's first 13 points, stunning Saint Anselm by building a 52-41 lead. In that span, Saint Anselm missed 10 straight shots and two free throws before Steinman had a jumper in the paint with 2:22 left. In total, Stonehill dominated the play with a 17-0 scoring run that boosted the hosts' efforts.

SCOUTING SAINT ANSELM

  • When playing on the road and including neutral-site games, Saint Anselm is 11-4 after recording wins in each of its nine contests away from Stoutenburgh Gymnasium to begin the season. The Hawks last recorded 10 victories on the road in 2015-16 and have only accomplished that feat in five prior seasons. The all-time record for wins away from home was 12 (1990-91).
  • Saint Anselm allows its opponents to shoot only 25.9% from beyond the arc, ranking first in the NE10. The team was ranked sixth among all NCAA Division II institutions heading into Friday's contest against Bentley and limited the Falcons to only five made baskets out of 22 attempts from beyond the arc. The Hawks also ranked 10th in overall rebounds per game (45.04) in the nation and 15th in rebound margin (8.9) prior to Friday's win.
  • Saint Anselm is averaging 68.8 points per game in 2018-19, the 10th-best figure in single-season history. The Hawks' 44.8 rebounds per contest stands as the second-best mark in program history, trailing the 45.1 rebounds per game accomplished by the 1984-85 program.
  • Ryan ranks second nationally with 21 double-doubles, trailing only Southern Connecticut State's Kiana Steinauer. She averages 12.1 rebounds per game and had the sixth-best mark in the nation as of the most recent NCAA rankings. She also averages 18.7 points per game to rank third among NE10 scorers. She reached 1,000 career points against Saint Michael's to cap the regular season home schedule, becoming only the 19th in team history to do so.
  • Ryan set two program records in her team's NE10 Semifinals loss to Bentley, recording her 345th rebound of the season to break Andrea Sunday's previous single-season record of 344 in 1994-95. She also posted her 230th field goal, passing Kristen Skoglund and her mark of 229 set in 1995-96. Ryan has 541 points scored this season, the second-best mark in program history, and she needs only six offensive rebounds against Stonehill to set the single-season record of 127.
  • Ryan currently stands as the program's all-time leading rebounder with 11.5 rebounds per game. Her 18.5 points per game in a Hawks uniform is second all-time, trailing only Linda Dunn's mark of 19.2 across 81 games from 1980-84. Her 127 career blocks are the fourth-most all-time and her 667 career rebounds are the 13th most in program history.
  • Ryan leads the Hawks in point scoring this season against the Skyhawks, averaging 16.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per contest.
  • Steinman owned the nation's 15th best free throw percentage (87.7%) entering Friday's game against Bentley and was 5-for-6 against the Falcons, dropping to a 87.5% percentage at game's end. She also ranks sixth in the NE10 with 34.08 minutes played per game. She is in the midst of a breakout season, scoring 14.2 points per game while averaging exactly six rebounds per contest, both career-high marks. She has reached double-digit scoring totals in 16 out of her last 18 appearances for Saint Anselm.
  • Messler has notched 9.3 points per game, a career-best total, and classmate Julia Thissell (Hopkinton, Mass.) has provided a spark off the bench, tallying just shy of five points per game while securing 3.3 caroms, on average.
  • Briggs is in the midst of a stellar fourth season on the Hilltop, setting career-high marks for points per game (4.9), minutes per game (28.2), games started (29), rebounds per game (2.2) and assists per game (2.6). She is joined in the backcourt by classmate Michaela Martin (Haverhill, Mass.) – she has also set career-highs in rebounds per game (2.2).
  • Guards Guachione and freshman Eva Mazur (South Portland, Maine) have earned 27 starts between them as Guachione was felled by injury near the midpoint of the season. Guachione has set personal-best marks with 7.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest. As a freshman, Mazur has averaged nearly 20 minutes per game, handing out 2.0 assists per game.

THE SCOOP ON STONEHILL

  • Stonehill triumphed over second-seeded Jefferson, reaching the 20-win mark for the 26th time in program history on Friday in the East Region quarterfinals.
  • The Skyhawks are vying for a return to the East Region title game for the second-straight season, having defeated the University of the Sciences by a 71-61 margin and advancing to the Elite Eight. Stonehill was downed by Indiana (Pa.) by a 75-71 score in Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Kayla Raymond, this season's NE10 Rookie of the Year, scored 22 points against Jefferson and sophomore Jennifer Worden chipped in with 17 points in the victory. Raymond is averaging a team-leading 16.2 points per game, shooting just shy of 50% from the floor, while leading the way with 5.8 rebounds.
  • Junior Grace Carter is averaging 10.1 points per game and her 28 minutes per game leads all Skyhawks student-athletes. She is her team's leader in three-point baskets with 69.
  • Five student-athletes for Stonehill have reached 200 points on the season, including senior Maty Diabate and her 7.1 points in 29 games on the season across only five starts.
  • Against New Haven in the NE10 Quarterfinals, the Skyhawks shot only 30.2% from the floor which was a season-low figure. In that contest, Stonehill threw up 34 three-point attempts and connected on only eight makes.
  • Stonehill entered the NCAA Championship leading the NE10 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.21), assists per game (18.6), blocked shots (146) and blocked shots per game (5.2). The team also ranked second in the conference in defensive rebounds per game (13) and third in overall rebounds per game (40.25).
  • The Skyhawks have slightly better offensive statistics away from their home, Merkert Gymnasium. The team is averaging 67.7 points on the road and nearly 75 points per game across two neutral-site fixtures. Across their two games played in the month of March, Stonehill is shooting less than 30% from three-point distance.

NCAA POSTSEASON ALL-TIME

  • Across all eight appearances at the NCAA Division II Championship, the Hawks own an overall record of 5-7. Saint Anselm has made a trip to the regional finals on three occasions, losing to Bentley twice and the most recent trip to Stonehill in 1995.
  • Against Mass.-Lowell in the First Round of the 1991 East Regional, the Hawks made seven of their nine attempts from beyond the arc to set the NCAA Championship record at the time. It has since been equaled on two occasions.
  • Saint Anselm is 0-2 against Stonehill in the NCAA Championship.
  • Stonehill is looking to reach the regional championship for the third-straight season. The Skyhawks have qualified for NCAA postseason play on 25 separate occasions, winning at least one game in each of its last eight trips.

HEAD COACHES

  • Saint Anselm head coach Corey Boilard has registered a 37-21 (.638) record since joining the Hawks prior to the 2017-18 season. After a 17-win campaign in his first season, the Hawks have lost only nine of their 29 games in 2018-19.
  • Boilard owns a 121-74 overall record between his time with the Hawks and NCAA Division III Johnson & Wales (R.I.). With the Wildcats, Boilard's teams went 62-22 (.738) overall in his last three seasons, making two NCAA Tournament appearances overall.
  • Stonehill bench boss Trisha Brown is in the midst of her 18th season at the helm of Stonehill - she has piloted her team to 12 NCAA tournament appearances. She has claimed four NE10 Coach of the Year awards and has won Coach of the Year in the East Region on three occasions.

ALL-TIME vs. STONEHILL

  • Stonehill leads the all-time series against Saint Anselm, 63-25. Stonehill has won four straight games in the series, most recently coming from behind to down the Hawks on Feb. 26.
  • Saint Anselm has won only one of its last seven games against Stonehill.
  • Since Jan. 15, 2002, the Hawks have posted only five wins in 32 games over the Skyhawks.