Mass. College Hoops: No. 14 Stonehill Hands No. 1 Bentley First Setback

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Bentley University sports information department, here’s this evening’s release from the women’s basketball game against Stonehill College. The No. 14 Skyhawks handed the No. 1 Falcons their first setback of the season and below is the recap:

NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Stonehill College, ranked 14th in Division II, made eight of its first nine three-pointers to take control and held on to upset top-ranked and previously unbeaten Bentley University, 73-66, in Northeast-10 Conference women’s basketball before a full house at Merkert Gymnasium Saturday afternoon.

Bentley, which had previously wrapped up the NE-10 regular season title, saw its East Region winning streak halted at 37 and dropped to 24-1 overall, 20-1 in the conference. Stonehill, which entered the game locked into the second seed in the upcoming conference playoffs, improved to 22-3 overall and 18-3 NE-10.

A quartet of Skyhawks accounted for 61 of Stonehill’s points, with sophomore guard Amy Pelletier (Beverly) leading the way with 17. She made five of six overall, with three treys, and helped lock up the win with four free throws in the final 50 seconds.

Senior guard Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley) followed with 16, and Stonehill also received 14 points from forwards Asia Ewing (Westford) and Tori Faieta (Lynn).

Junior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) and senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) each scored 16 for Bentley, and had eight and nine rebounds, respectively. Battista’s 16 boosted her career total to 1,389, surpassing Kim Penwell ’93 for the most ever by a Falcon prior to her senior year, and Finn moved to within 34 of 1,000.

Hot shooting by Stonehill, especially from downtown where the Skyhawks were seven of eight, produced a lead as big as 16 for the home team in the first half, 39-23 with 2:31 to play. Bentley cut it down to 11 at the break after forcing four turnovers in the final two minutes and scoring the last five points, including four from junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS). She made a pair of free throws, came up with a backcourt steal and laid it in for four points in only five seconds.

The bench carried the Falcon offense in the first half, providing 15 of the 28 points on six of 12 shooting, with a pair of threes. The starting five had its problems, combining for only three baskets in 15 attempts and a total of 13 points.

The backcourt of Dixon and Pelletier led Stonehill during the first 20, combining for 20 points without a turnover. Pelletier scored 11 without missing a shot, connecting three times from outside the arc. Dixon made both her threes during a nine-point half.

A 13-5 Stonehill run to start the second half pushed the Bentley deficit to a season-high 19, 52-33 with 14:21 left. Ewing had five during that stretch and both Dixon and Faieta scored four.

The lead remained in doubles until a 9-0 Falcon spurt, which included four by Finn, reduced the spread to nine, 59-50 with 8:45 left.

The two teams traded baskets over the next five minutes with Bentley entering the final 3:30 down a dozen, 68-56. Two free throws by Bentley junior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS), an eight-footer from Battista and a top-of-the-key three from senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy)reduced the deficit to six, 68-62, with 1:34 remaining.

Following a defensive stop, Bentley had a chance to make it a four-point game.  But a missed lay-up was followed by two Pelletier free throws with 48.2 seconds, Stonehill’s first points in over three minutes. Two free throws by Finn were matched by Pelletier, and Battista made it a six-point game again with a lay-up with 19.8 seconds.

Dixon was quickly fouled and she missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17.1 on the clock. However, she tracked down the rebound and that was essentially the ball game.

Brugliera and Crowell were the only Falcons other than Battista and Finn to score more than five, finishing with nine and seven, respectively.

Stonehill outshot the Falcons 47-35 percent and had an 8-3 advantage in threes as Bentley connected on just 3 of 24 from downtown. The Falcons finished with a 15-5 edge in second chance points, but lost for the first time in 69 games when winning the rebound battle (44-34).

Bentley will finish the regular season at home Tuesday night against UMass-Lowell and will host a Northeast-10 quarterfinal playoff game next Sunday afternoon.

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