WALTHAM, Mass. – After pulling out a first-round win over Jefferson University, the Bentley University women's basketball team will be seeking its 26th Sweet 16 appearance and regional championship game in the tournament's 37-year history when it faces USciences tonight at 5 pm at Stonehill College in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II East Regional. Video and live stats links for the 100th NCAA tournament game in program history will be available at http://bentleyfalcons.com/sports/wbkb/2017-18/schedule.
The two winningest teams in the East Region – Bentley 28-3 and USciences 29-3 – have met only once previously. That came in last year's regional first round when sixth-seeded USciences used 12 three-pointers to bounce the Falcons from the tournament.
Bentley, a regional finalist six of the last eight years, has won eight straight regional semis, as well as 21 of 22 since 1988. Meanwhile, USciences will be looking to make the regional championship game for the first time after falling to Queens, 77-67.
In its last two games, coach Barbara Stevens' Falcons have needed strong closing bursts to pull out a victory. They finished the Northeast-10 championship game against Stonehill last Sunday with a 14-6 run resulting in a 73-72 OT victory. Yesterday, it was a 16-6 spurt for a 71-66 win.
In yesterday's contest, the Falcons were powered by juniors Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) and Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) with a combined 38 points and 18 rebounds. Lux had her 15th double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Lewis came off the bench for 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. In her last three games, she's totaled 61 points, 28 rebounds and eight assists.
USciences pulled away in the second half for a 61-50 victory, the Devils' fourth straight win after an 80-77 loss to Chestnut Hill in the regular season finale. The Tigers, who have set a school record for wins, rank in the top five in Division II in scoring defense (53.7), three-pointers (10.1), free throw percentage (.803) and fewest turnovers (11.6).
Both teams have enjoyed great success against NCAA tournament teams this season with Bentley 5-1 and USciences a perfect 8-0, including three wins over Jefferson and a 71-58 homecourt victory over Stonehill back in December.
Bentley, the second highest scoring team in the region at 74.4, is 20-0 this season when scoring at least 70 points. On the other hand, USciences is 29-0 when holding the opponent under 70 and 0-3 when giving up more than that mark.
A key to the outcome could be which team finishes with the higher field goal percentage. Bentley, ranked ninth in the WBCA Division II national coaches poll, is 24-0 when it outshoots its opponent this season and the 16th-ranked Devils are 22-0.
In the second regional semi, top-seeded Stonehill will face off against Saint Thomas Aquinas at 7:30 pm. The host Skyhawks cruised to a 70-45 win over Southern Connecticut State and STAC advanced with a 61-45 win over Caldwell as all four top seeds prevailed.
The regional championship game is Monday night at 7 pm at Stonehill.