GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Men's Basketball Back at Merkert to Host … – Stonehill College Athletics

Stonehill Skyhawks
(6-11, 2-1 NEC)
Central Conn. State Blue Devils
(4-13, 2-1 NEC)

Saturday, January 7, 2023
Merkert Gymnasium
Easton, Mass.
  2 p.m.

Purchase Tickets
Live Video

Live Stats

The Game
Stonehill College continues its season-long four game homestand and wraps up the second weekend of the Northeast Conference schedule by hosting Central Connecticut State University on Paula Sullivan Court at Merkert Gymnasium this afternoon. The Skyhawks are off to a 2-1 start to their inaugural NEC season after Thursday’s 62-58 victory over Wagner here at Merkert Gym, while the Blue Devils have won two-straight to improve to 2-1 in the NEC as well after Thursday’s 78-59 win over LIU in New Britain, Connecticut.

Media Information
This afternoon’s game is being broadcast live on SkyhawksVision and NEC Front Row. Charlie Bergeron (PBP) and Brian Buckley (analyst) have the call of the action for tonight. The broadcast can be accessed via through its NEC Front Row portal ( or through Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku via the NEC On the Run App.
Last Time Out
Stonehill turned in its best defensive performance of the season in notching a 62-58 triumph over Wagner in Northeast Conference action at Merkert Gymnasium Thursday night. Fifth-year guard Isaiah Burnett (Annapolis, Md.) paced Stonehill to its second victory over the last three games as he stuffed the box score with 12 of his team-high 16 points in the second half, aided by 10-of-11 shooting at the free-throw line, with seven rebounds and a career-high matching five steals. Classmate Andrew Sims (Mount Laurel, N.J.) added 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, with three boards and two assists. Sophomore Rob Taylor II posted a double-double to pace three from Wagner in double-figures with 17 points, including 14 in the first half, and 11 rebounds. Wagner scored the final eight points of the first half, including six-straight from Taylor, to take its first lead of the afternoon and a three-point halftime edge (24-21). The Seahawks led despite 30-percent shooting (9-for-30) in the half, including 2-for-11 from three-point distance, but took advantage of 11 Stonehill turnovers in the half for an 11-2 advantage in points off, while also recording a 21-14 rebounding edge, grabbing nine offensive boards. Stonehill scored seven-straight points off three Burnett steals on three consecutive Wagner possessions to open a game-high 11-point lead (50-39) after he made two free-throws off his third theft with 6:39 to play.

Against the Blue Devils
Tonight marks the 33rd meeting all-time between these two programs, but the first since a 112-95 Central Connecticut State win on December 22, 1984 in New Britain. The Blue Devils own a 26-6 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1960, including a 8-5 edge in Easton. Stonehill does hold a 4-2 edge in the only six meetings here at Merkert Gym, the last a 70-67 CCSU win on December 3, 1983. Central won the first 18 meetings between the two in a series that also includes an NCAA Tournament first round matchup in 1971 (111-99 CCSU win). The Blue Devils have won the last three meetings in the series and is 6-4 against Stonehill over the last ten encounters.
Last Time They Met
Stonehill and Central Connecticut State will meet for the first time since a 112-95 Blue Devils victory at Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain, Connecticut, on December 22, 1984. Rich Nappi and Tony Little each scored 28 points for CCSU in the win, with Nappi making 12-of-16 shots and dishing out five assists, while Little connected on 11-of-14 and made 6-of-8 free-throws with five assists and three steals off the bench. George Leonard led Stonehill with a game-high 29 points on 13-of-15 shooting, finishing off a double-double with ten rebounds. Bob Duarte added 15 points, aided by an 11-of-15 effort at the free-throw line with six boards. CCSU built a 19-point halftime lead (55-36) on 55-percent shooting, compared to 41% for Stonehill, which connected on 70% (23-33) of its shots in the second half in scoring 59 points in the closing 20-minutes.

Looking Back at 1984
Stonehill and Central Connecticut State are playing one another for the first time since a 112-95 Blue Devils win in New Britain on December 22, 1984. What was going on in the world at this time?
• It was a Saturday.
• #1 Song in the US was “Like A Virgin” by Madonna for the sixth-straight week.
• January 24: Apple Computer, Inc., unveils its revolutionary Macintosh personal computer.
• February: Winter Olympics held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
• August: Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles.
• November 9: Wes Craven’s horror film “A Nightmare on Elm Street” premieres in the US.
• December 30: LeBron James born.
• Stonehill head coach Chris Kraus was nearing his second birthday.
• I was ten years old.

Stonehill Ties
Central Connecticut State director of athletics Tom Pincince is a 1997 Stonehill graduate, where he was a four-year letterwinner on the football program. The former Stonehill quarterback still ranks among several single-season and career passing lists during his time in Easton. Pincince was named AD at CCSU last January after three years in an interim capacity. He is currently in his 21st year at the University overall.

Dueling Alums
Stonehill and Central Connecticut State are both led by head coaches who are alumni of their institutions. Stonehill head coach Chris Kraus is a 2006 graduate and former student-athlete in his tenth year in charge at his alma mater. CCSU mentor Patrick Sellers is a 1991 graduate of the New Britain, Connecticut, institution where be played for the Blue Devils for four years. The duo are among four men’s coaches in the NEC in charge of their alma maters along with Saint Francis’ Rob Krimmel ’00 and Merrimack’s Joe Gallo ’04.

NEC Debut Wins
Stonehill is the sixth new Northeast Conference member to record a win in its NEC debut game after its 74-67 triumph at Sacred Heart on Thursday. The Skyhawks join Merrimack (vs. Sacred Heart in 2020), Quinnipiac (at Monmouth, 1998), Maryland Baltimore County (vs Mount Saint Mary’s, 1998), Rider (vs. St. Francis-Brooklyn, 1993) and Monmouth (vs LIU, 1986) in posting NEC debut wins.

Let’s Make it Two!
Stonehill is one of just four NEC newcomers to win their debut games on both the men’s and women’s side after the Stonehill women notched a 73-66 victory in their Conference opener at Central Connecticut State on Monday. Stonehill is the first since Quinnipiac won both openers in 1998, also joining Rider (1992-93) and Monmouth (1985-86).  
Prime Performers
Stonehill fifth-years Andrew Sims (Mount Laurel, N.J.) and Isaiah Burnett (Annapolis, Md.) were both named NEC Prime Performers for their efforts in a split of the opening two NEC games in the Skyhawks history on Monday. Sims posted his first double-double of the season in Stonehill’s 74-67 win at Sacred Heart in the program’s inaugural NEC contest. He finished with 17 points and a season-high ten rebounds in the victory. Sims shot an efficient 55.6-percent (15-for-27) from the floor on his way to averaging 17.5 points over the two games, while adding 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Burnett paced the Skyhawks with 18.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.5 assists per game in a split during the first week of NEC competition. He scored a game-high 25 points in a one-point setback at Saint Francis on Saturday, adding seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Sims and Burnett lead Stonehill with five and four NEC Prime Performer selections this season and the duo have both collected NEC Player of the Week accolades once. Postgrad Max Zegarowski (South Hamilton, Mass.)  has earned Prime Performer honors once to round out the Skyhawk selections.
NEC Prime Performers:
Nov. 14: Andrew Sims & Isaiah Burnett
Nov. 21: Isaiah Burnett
Nov. 28: Andrew Sims
Dec. 5: Andrew Sims & Max Zegarowski
Dec. 12: Isaiah Burnett
Dec. 19: Andrew Sims
Jan. 2: Andrew Sims & Isaiah Burnett

Preseason Prognostications
Stonehill was picked to finish ninth in its first Northeast Conference season by the league’s head coaches. Merrimack received six of the eight first place votes to hold the pole position atop the preseason poll, followed by Sacred Heart with two first place votes. Saint Francis (Pa.) follows in third, while Wagner is picked fourth and received the final first place vote.  

Bright Lights
The Northeast Conference announced that Stonehill’s February 2 matchup with Saint Francis (Pa.) University will be broadcast live on ESPN3 through the NEC’s 26-game television package. The matchup at Merkert Gym is among 21 games that will be featured on ESPN networks. Now in his 23rd season, Dave Popkin serves as the primary play-by-play announcer on men’s broadcasts, with Paul Dottino (24th year) filling in. Tim Capstraw (24th year) and Joe DeSantis (16th year) are slated to split color analyst duties. Pack Network and Northeast Sports Network (NSN) will handle production duties for the league’s ESPN3/ESPN+ package.

Globe Mass Top 10
Stonehill fifth-year forward Andrew Sims (Mount Laurel, N.J.) was recognized by the Boston Globe on Monday as one of the top ten players among the nine NCAA Division I men’s basketball programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Sims was ranked No. 9 by Globe men’s basketball columnist Trevor Hass, while postgrad Max Zegarowski (South Hamilton, Mass.) received honorable mention status. Harvard’s Chris Ledlum leads the list that also includes Northeastern’s Jahmyl Telfort (No. 2), Noah Fernandes of UMass (No. 3), Walter Whyte of Boston University (No. 4), Makai Ashton-Langford of Boston College (No. 5), UMass Lowell’s Abdoul Karim Coulibaly (No. 6), Jordan Minor from Merrimack (No. 7), Holy Cross’ Gerrale Gates (No. 8) and Everette Hammond of UMass Lowell (No. 10).

Super Saturdays
Stonehill is 3-1 in its games played on Saturday after suffering its first defeat on that day of the week at Saint Francis last week. All four of the Skyhawks previous Saturday games have been away from Merkert Gym, including the Skyhawks first NCAA Division I win at Army West Point (82-77), to go with an 81-79 win over Holy Cross on day one of the Tom Konchalski Classic at Fordham, before notching a 69-66 triumph at Binghamton on December 3.

Movin’ On Up!
Fifth-year forward Andrew Sims (Mount Laurel, N.J.) surpassed 900 career points with his 20 point effort at Boston College on December 13 and is now just 28 points shy of becoming the 43th 1,000-point scorer in the program’s history. He has scored 972 points in 89 career games played as a 47.5-percent shooter for his career.

Milestone Max
Postgrad Max Zegarowski (South Hamilton, Mass.) could give Stonehill two 1,000-point scorers on its roster, having scored 888 points in 77 career games, including his time at Lynn and Franklin Pierce.

Stop… Thief!
After matching his career-best with five steals for the third time in Thursday’s win over Wagner, Stonehill fifth-year Isaiah Burnett (Annapolis, Md.) reclaimed the NEC lead in steals with 2.9 per game, which would rank fourth nationally. His 50 thefts lead all of Division I basketball and he has now recorded a steal in all 17 contests this season and 23-straight games dating back to last year. He has recorded multiple steals in ten-straight games, having now collected a career-high matching five thefts at Boston College on December 13 and at Binghamton on December 3 prior to Wagner on Thursday. Burnett led the NE10 with 2.3 steals per game last year, collecting his 100th career steal at Bradley on December 19. (Note that due to NCAA Division I reclassification, Stonehill does not officially appear among NCAA statistical leaders for four years)

Stonehill made a season-high 23 free-throws in Thursday’s win over Wagner, including key conversions late to seal the win. It marks the third-higest total in the NEC this season, while the Skyhawks 22 free-throws in the 81-79 win over Holy Cross on November 19 as well as its matchup with UIC two days later – both the fourth-highest single-game total in the NEC this season.

Home Cooking!
Albeit a small sample size of just four games, including one non-Division I opponent, Stonehill is scoring 10-points per game more at home (79.0 ppg) than its season average (69.8 ppg). The Skyhawks have shot 48.6-percent from the field at Merkert Gym this season, including 40.2% from three-point distance. Postgrad Max Zegarowski (South Hamilton, Mass.) has found the Merkert rims friendly in his first year as a Skyhawk, averaging 16.0 points on 47.6% shooting, including 11-for-25 (44%) from three.

In Transition
Stonehill announced it had accepted an invitation to join the Northeast Conference and commence a four-year transition to full NCAA Division I membership on April 5. The Skyhawks started their four-year transition on July 1 and will earn full NCAA Division I membership in 2026-27. At the June NEC meetings, the Conference presidents announced a shift in the waiting period for automatic qualifier sports from competing for NEC postseason championships from four to two years, making Stonehill eligible to compete in the NEC postseason starting in 2024-25.

Proud History
Stonehill won the Northeast-10 Presidents’ Cup six times, finishing in the top three in the final standings 15 of the last 17 years. Stonehill was one of just ten institutions nationwide to receive the NCAA Division II Presidents’ Award for Academic Achievement, recognizing athletic departments with an Academic Success rating of 90-percent or better, each of the first ten years of the program’s existence. The College ranks No. 98 in the category of National Liberal Arts Schools by U.S. News & World Report and No. 94 for the Best Value category.

Hoop History
Stonehill men’s basketball earned 15 NCAA Division II Tournament bids over its history, the last was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Stonehill were charter members of the Northeast-10 Conference, winning the first two tournament championships in 1981 and ’82, finishing its time in the Conference with four postseason titles and six regular season championships.

Getting Social
Fans and media members of Stonehill athletics have multiple social media outlets to get updates on all 23 varsity programs. The department’s Facebook page is, and you can also follow @GoStonehill on Twitter and @stonehillskyhawks via Instagram! You can also search for Stonehill men’s basketball on Facebook, follow the team’s Twitter account via @StonehillBball as well as head coach Chris Kraus @CoachChrisKraus, and its new Instagram feed @stonehillbball. 
Up Next
Stonehill continues its season-long four game homestand next Saturday, January 14, when it hosts former Northeast-10 divisional rival Merrimack College for an NEC matchup here at Merkert Gym at 2 p.m. The Skyhawks host Fairleigh Dickinson University here on Monday, January 16, at 7 p.m.
Stonehill College | 320 Washington Street | Easton, MA 02357


Leave a Comment