For Immediate Release
Andre Tongo pours in 24 points as Skyhawks break out offensively
Highland Heights, Ky. – The Stonehill College men's basketball team held off third-ranked West Liberty University on Wednesday afternoon for a thrilling 91-90 victory at the Bank of Kentucky Center in Highland Heights, Kentucky.
The victory earns Stonehill a spot in Thursday night's national semifinals (7:00 p.m.) against Western Washington University, which defeated Midwestern State University, 64-63, on Wednesday.
Stonehill (25-8) has now won 10 straight, of which included three wins in four days at the NCAA East Regional and three victories to run the tables at the Northeast-10 Conference Championship prior to Wednesday's Elite Eight triumph.
The matchup was one of polar opposites for the two programs, as West Liberty (32-3) was first in the country in scoring offense (102.8) entering the contest while Stonehill boasted the fourth-ranked scoring defense (57.8) in all of Division II.
But the Skyhawks took the necessary measures in adapting to its opponent, scoring a season-high 91 points at the tune of 50 percent from the field, including 52 percent from three-point range on 10-of-19 shooting.
Stonehill, which battled back from a 10-point deficit with just over 10 minutes left to play, was also limited by three members of its starting five getting into foul trouble, as Sam Markle and Brian Hamor, the NCAA East Region Most Outstanding Player, both eventually fouled out while Northeast-10 Third Team pick Patrick Lee spent key stretches on the bench with four fouls.
In the meantime, it was senior Andre Tongo who came up big for the Skyhawks, as the Northeast-10 Championship's Most Outstanding Player broke out for 24 points, nine rebounds and six steals to help earn the Skyhawks their second Final Four appearance in program history.
After a key second-half run by the Hilltoppers to open up a double-digit lead, the resilient Skyhawks came right back to score 19 of the game's next 23 points over a 5:25 stretch for a 78-75 lead with five minutes and change left.
The Skyhawks, who did not relinquish that lead the rest of the way, led it by seven with under four minutes to play after a pair of Tongo free throws, only for West Liberty to again cut it to a one-point game at 84-83 with 2:37 left after scoring six straight points in just over a minute.
But Lee took over from there, scoring the game's next five points and the last seven overall for the Skyhawks on the way to victory, although West Liberty continued to make things interesting by hitting a pair of three-pointers in the final eight seconds.
West Liberty had been down 47-40 at the break but outscored Stonehill 31-14 over the first 10 minutes of the second half, including a 23-4 run over a 5:30 stretch to open up a 71-61 lead.
Lee finished with 14 points, six rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals for the Skyhawks, while Hamor totaled seven points and six assists in just 20 minutes due to foul trouble.
Tongo shot 8-of-16 from the floor and 3-of-8 from three, while Jack Cole added 15 points and seven rebounds in just 21 minutes of action. Raheem May-Thompson had 14 points and seven boards off the bench.
Alex Falk had a game-high 26 points (8-11 FG, 2-3 3PT, 8-12 FT) for West Liberty, while Keene Cockburn and Shawn Dyer added 17 and 15 points, respectively, in the loss.
Stonehill won the rebounding battle 39-29 in the win.
The Northeast-10 is an association of 16 NCAA Division II colleges and universities located in New England and New York that is committed to supporting balanced academic and athletic opportunities for more than 5,500 student-athletes. Each year, 4,000 of those student-athletes compete in Conference championships in 23 sports, making the NE-10 the largest DII conference in the country. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the Northeast-10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.