WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior guards Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) and Kelsey Roberson (Arlington/Arlington Catholic HS) each set career scoring bests while combining for 41 points, and junior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) joined the Falcons' 1000-point club, as Bentley University assured itself of at least a share of the Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball championship with a 70-50 win over Southern New Hampshire University Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Finn scored 19 first-half points without missing a shot and finished with 23 points, five rebounds and four steals. Roberson connected six times from downtown for an 18-point afternoon.
Bentley, ranked number two in Division II and poised to move up this coming week after top-ranked Ashland University was upended on Thursday, improved to 23-0 overall and 19-0 NE-10 with its 22nd straight home victory and its 36th in a row against East Region competition. The Falcons, with three regular season games left, are three up on second-place Stonehill College, who'll they'll see next Saturday.
It's the third straight year that the Falcons have had at least a share of the title and the program's 21st NE-10 regular season title in the conference's 32-year history.
Roberson's first three of the afternoon, with 18:47 left, broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Falcons a lead it would never relinquish. The Falcons added four more three-balls in the first seven minutes, including three by Finn, to open a 19-11 lead.
After SNHU pulled within four, Bentley ran off 10 unanswered to take a 14-point lead at 31-17 and the differential remained in doubles the rest of the way. Junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) scored all eight of her points during the Falcons' 26th run of at least 10 straight this season.
Brugliera netted her milestone basket with a lay-up with 4:06 to play in the opening half, off a feed from junior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS). That made it 37-22, and the Falcons extended the lead to 18 at the break, 42-24.
Finn probably couldn't have had a better first half as she made all eight of her shots, including a three-for-three effort from outside the arc, and also had three steals. Her performance was a major reason why the Falcons shot a sizzling 61 percent before the break.
Roberson nailed three triples in the first six minutes of the second half, extending Bentley's lead to a commanding 27, 55-28. At that point, the Falcons were a sizzling eight of 14 from three-point land. They finished nine of 17, the fourth time in at least six games they've shot 50 percent or better from three.
Finn finished nine of 12 overall from the field, including three of four from three. Roberson's six threes were accomplished in nine attempts, and she also had three rebounds and two steals. Brugliera matched Bakolas in the scoring column, and Battista's line included seven assists, two blocks, six points and four rebounds.
Southern New Hampshire, which shot only 33 percent, received 10 points apiece from seniors Sloane Sorrell (Berwick, Maine) and Morgan Munson (Queensland, Australia).
Bentley finished the game with a .448 field goal percentage after tailing off in the second half and had as many steals (15) as turnovers (15) while forcing SNHU into 24 giveaways. The Falcons also had a 9-4 edge in free throws.
Bentley, which gave coach Barbara Stevens her 875th career victory, will look to wrap up the conference title outright when it visits Franklin Pierce on Wednesday night.