Video Highlights (courtesy Pack Network)
WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior All-America and two-time Capital One Academic All-America Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) scored 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting as top-seeded Bentley University withstood a challenge from LIU Post, defeating the eighth-seeded Pioneers 68-57 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball East Regional quarterfinals Friday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, the two-time defending regional champion and winner of 27 straight on its home court, improved to 29-1 overall and will meet the winning of the day's final quarterfinal, fourth-ranked Holy Family against number five Assumption Saturday at 7:30 pm in the second half of a semifinal doubleheader. The opening game, slated for 5 pm, will pit second-seeded Stonehill against number three Dowling.
Battista, 10th on Bentley's all-time scoring list with 1,475 points, delivered for coach Barbara Stevens' team whenever needed.
She opened the game by scoring the Falcons' first six points during a 6-2 run and capped a ten-point first half by with an offensive rebound and buzzer-beating 10-foot jumper to break a 29-all tie and send the Falcons to the locker room in front at 31-29.
Battista remained hot at the start of the second, scoring six during an 8-2 start that put the Falcons up eight, 39-31, less than two minutes in. At that point, she already had 16 points on eight of nine shooting.
Later in the second half, after the Pioneers had pulled to within two at 45-43 with about 11:30 to play, Battista scored four and handed out an assist on a triple by senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) during an 11-2 spurt that gave Bentley its first double-figure lead of the game, 56-45, with 8:06 on the clock.
Battista put the finishing touches on her outstanding night and the win by draining a three from the left side with 1.1 second to play, a shot necessary to avoid a 30-second violation. Her final numbers were 12 of 17 from the floor, with five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal in 37 minutes.
After LIU Post took its first lead of the night at 9-8, three-balls from Finn and freshman guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) put Bentley back in front, 14-9. LIU Post answered right back, scoring nine unanswered on a run launched with a step-back three from junior guard Alexis Peters (Dorchester).
With Bentley down 21-17 with 6:58 left in the first, the Falcons used a 9-2 spurt to go back up three, 26-23. Junior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS), the only Falcon to score in doubles other than Battista, had a pair of baskets and White hit her second triple of the half.
LIU Post came back to tie the game two more times, but Battista's half-ending buzzer-beater put the team that now has ten consecutive home wins in NCAA regional play in front to stay.
Brugliera finished with 10 points and five rebounds, and the Falcons received eight apiece from Finn and junior point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS). Bakolas had a busy night as she filled the stat sheet with six assists, six steals and five rebounds, along with six of the Falcons' 20 turnovers.
LIU Post, which finished its season at 19-10, also had trouble holding onto the ball, finishing with 22 turns that resulted in 24 Bentley points. In contrast, the Pioneers only scored 15 off Falcon giveaways.
Bentley outshot the Pioneers 53-43 percent overall and hit a blistering 65 percent of its second-half shot attempts.
LIU Post's top scorer was six-foot-two senior Samantha Kopp (Franklinville, N.Y.), with 19 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in her final collegiate game.
In the earlier games, Baylor transfer Danielle Wilson had 23 points and 22 rebounds for Dowling in its 62-51 win over New York Institute of Technogy, and guard Mary Louise Dixon had a career-high 32 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in Stonehill's 78-66 victory over Franklin Pierce.