MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) provided 18 points and eight rebounds as Women's Basketball Hall of Famer Barbara Stevens recorded her 700th win as women's basketball coach at Bentley University, 52-42 over Southern New Hampshire University in Northeast-10 Conference action Saturday afternoon at the SNHU Fieldhouse.
Stevens, in 27 years on the Falcon bench, owns a record of 700-153. The 11th women's basketball coach to record 700 victories at one institution, she stands sixth on the all-time win list with 857, including stints at Clark University and the University of Massachusetts.
Bentley, ranked second nationally in the USA Today Sports/ESPN/WBCA Division II coaches poll, used strong defense over the final 29 minutes, 21 points off turnovers and a bevy of second half free throws (16 of 24) to remain undefeated (5-0, 4-0 NE-10) and extend its winning streak against East Region opposition to 18.
After ten first-half lead changes, the Falcons took the lead for good with six unanswered points early in the second. Finn made a couple free throws following an offensive rebound and then drove base line for a go-ahead basket on the Falcons' next possession. Two free throws by senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich, Mass./Worcester Academy) capped the run, making it 30-27 with 15:29 to play.
Another 6-0 spurt, this one taking about three-and-a-half minutes, extended the Falcon lead to seven, 41-34, with 7:55 to play. Finn started things with a lay-up, both junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) and junior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./Wachusett Reg. HS) made one of two from the line, and Finn tacked on two more free throws.
The Falcon advantage remained between five and eight until the final minute when Stevens' club locked up the milestone victory by making four of six free throws, including two of two by senior guard Kelsey Roberson (Arlington, Mass./Arlington Catholic HS).
Bentley went into the halftime break down one, 25-24, after shooting a dismal 26 percent over the first 20 minutes. The back-and-forth half saw the two teams never separated by more than three points over the final 15:30.
Finn and Brugliera carried the Falcons in the first half, combining for 16 points and eight rebounds while making six of ten shots. Finn led the way with nine points, two more than Brugliera, and both claimed four rebounds.
In contrast to Bentley's cold shooting, Southern New Hampshire started out red-hot, making seven of its first eight before tailing off to 46 percent by the break. Thirteen turnovers plagued the Penmen in the opening half, with the Falcons turning those into an 11-2 advantage in points off.
Both teams were cold from the floor after play resumed with the Falcons shooting only 30 percent in the second and the Penmen just 23 percent. Overall, Bentley finished at 28 percent, about six percent lower than SNHU.
Southern New Hampshire actually outscored Bentley from the field by four points, but the Falcons' superiority at the line more than countered that. Roberson and Finn each took eight free throws, each matching SNHU's total as a team, with Bentley finishing 18 of 26 at the stripe.
Finn was followed in the scoring column by Brugliera (11 points, seven rebounds) and junior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS), with nine points, along with five rebounds and two steals.
Senior forward Sloane Sorrell (Berwick, Maine) was the only SNHU player to score in doubles as she netted 12 points and also recorded 12 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Bentley will be back at home on Tuesday, hosting Franklin Pierce University at 5:30 pm.