#1 Bentley Survives Against Stonehill, 79-74

Senior Mary Louise Dixon led five Skyhawks in double figures with 16 points and six assists. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Finn leads Falcons to 25th win without defeat with double-double effort 

WALTHAM, Mass. (February 22, 2014) – Bentley University, ranked first in the USA TODAY Sports Division II poll, survived its toughest test of the season to date to claim a 79-74 triumph over rival Stonehill College, among teams receiving votes nationally, in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at the Dana Athletic Center this afternoon.

Post grad Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop) led four Bentley players in double figures with a double-double performance of 19 points and ten rebounds to go with five assists as she finished shooting 6-for-14 from the field. Senior Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames) added 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line to go with six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Senior Caleigh Crowell (Harwich, Mass./Worcester Academy) contributed 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting overall and a 4-for-6 effort at the free-throw line with five steals, while classmate Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./Wachusett Regional) chipped in ten points and six boards.

Senior Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) led five Stonehill players in double figures with 16 points, aided by 11-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line, six assists, three rebounds and two steals. Classmate Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) made her first start of the season and added 14 points, a team-high nine rebounds and three assists, while junior Amy Pelletier (Beverly, Mass./Bishop Fenwick) registered 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 2-for-3 from three-point range, and three rebounds.

Junior Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) contributed 11 points, six rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots and two steals, while sophomore Paige Marshall (Braintree, Mass./Braintree) chipped in ten points on 3-of-6 shooting, converting 3-of-4 free-throws, three rebounds, two assists and blocked shot and a steal. Senior Abbey Lalime (Orleans, Vt./Lake Region Union) scored eight key first half points to help the Skyhawks overcome some early errors, connecting on 3-of-4 shots from the field in the half, including 1-for-2 from downtown and converting her lone free-throw.

Senior Asia Ewing filled the stat sheet with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists. (PHOTO BY Emily Reynolds)

Bentley shot 43.9-percent (25-for-57) from the field and converted 27-of-38 (71.1%) free-throw attempts on the afternoon. The Falcons made 46.7% (14-30) of their shots in the first half to build an eight point (39-31) halftime lead. Bentley held a 39-29 rebounding advantage to aid in a 17-3 break in second chance points. Stonehill finished shooting 44% (22-for-50) from the floor, including 50% (11-22) in the second half to nearly overcome a 39.3% (11-28) shooting effort over the opening 20 minutes. The Skyhawks connected on 7-of-22 (31.8%) three-pointers, including 5-of-9 (55.6%) in the second half, and converted 23-of-27 (85.2%) free-throws. Stonehill took much better care of the ball over the final 20 minutes after committing 12 first half turnovers, finishing with 20 overall, after being outscored 16-12 in points off turnovers in the first frame.

Stonehill's rally from a 15 point (58-43) deficit with 10:46 to play came up just short as a three-point attempt from Dixon, which was contested by two Bentley players, in the closing seconds sealed the Falcons win. Two free-throws by Finn provided Bentley with the 15 point bulge, capping a string of six straight Falcon points. Bentley's lead was still 13 (62-49) after a layup by senior Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Manchester Central) with 8:51 remaining.

Stonehill responded with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to close within five (64-59) after a three-pointer from Pelletier with 5:41 to play. Bentley held and reclaimed a nine point (69-60) cushion with 4:53 left after a three-point play and layup by Battista. The Skyhawks closed the gap to three (72-69) with a Ewing triple with 3:27 to go after also contributing a pair of free-throws during that stretch.

Stonehill went scoreless over the next three minutes, but Bentley was only able to push the lead back to six (75-69) with 44-seconds to go after Bakolas made one of two at the line and Crowell scored a layup off a Skyhawks turnover. Dixon and Bakolas traded pairs of free-throws before Dixon buried a three to draw Stonehill within a possession (77-74) once again with 16-seconds to go. Bakolas was fouled and missed both free-throws to give the Skyhawks one more chance, but Dixon's contested three was off the mark and Battista sealed the win with two free-throws with a second to go.

Bentley led by as much as 14 (30-16) after a layup by freshman Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) with 6:50 remaining in the first half. Stonehill closed within eight (30-22) after a Faieta basket with 5:38 to go, before the Falcons reclaimed a 12 point lead (34-22) a minute later after back to back  baskets from Finn and Gemma. The Skyhawks were able to draw back within seven (38-31) after a Ewing layup with 49-seconds to go in the half, but Finn made one of two free-throws with four seconds to go that sent the hosts into halftime with an eight point (39-31) lead.

Stonehill (17-7, 14-6 NE-10) returns to action on Tuesday when it closes out the regular season at Merkert Gymnasium against Saint Anselm College on Senior Night at 5:30 p.m. Bentley (25-0, 20-0 NE-10), winners of its first 25 games for the second time in program history, closes out the regular season by hosting Franklin Pierce University on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter and Facebook. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks mobile app on iTunes and the Android Market.