EASTON, Mass. – Senior center Tori Faieta (Lynn) powered her way to 25 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks, and sophomore guard Kelly Martin (Scituate) added 20 points, as Stonehill College, ranked 10th in the USA Today Sports/WBCA Division II coaches poll, held off a late charge from Bentley University to record an 85-71 win over the Falcons in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball at Merkert Gym Saturday evening. It was the 100th meeting in a series that dates back 41 seasons.
The loss denied the reigning NCAA Division II national champion Falcons from gaining a berth in the upcoming championship tournament with Bentley falling to 11-15 overall and 6-14 NE-10.
Stonehill, which had already clinched the NE-10's Northeast Division, doubled the Falcons in the paint, 52-26, while improving to 21-3 overall and 17-3 in the conference.
Bentley went into the halftime break down two, 39-37, after trailing by as many as ten, with a late 10-0 run inspired by sophomore center Melina Kollia (Athens, Greece) the key to the comeback. Kollia, playing extended minutes after sophomore forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) picked up her second with 6:13 left, scored five points during the run, a spurt that also included a three-pointer by senior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) and a layup following a backcourt steal from senior forward Carlene Kluge (Reading/Reading HS).
After that run tied the game at 35, Bentley twice had a chance to reclaim a lead it last held at 8-6, but each time, missed a free throw. An offensive rebound and put-back by Faieta with 44 seconds left in the first provided the go-ahead basket for the Skyhawks and two of a dozen second-chance points for Stonehill in the opening 20 minutes.
Kluge opened the second half scoring with a game-tying lay-up, and after a pair of Stonehill baskets, Gemma drained a three to bring Bentley within one, 43-42 with 16:54.
A Faieta lay-up launched a 23-7 Stonehill explosion that extended the one-point lead to a 17-point differential, 66-49 with 11 minutes to play. The six-foot-two post had eight of the 23, as did junior guard Paige Marshall (Braintree).
Bentley, still down 16 with six minutes to play, went to the press and that helped the Falcons climb back into the contest, fueling a 14-4 run that cut it to 77-71 with 2:22 to play. Freshman guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) led the scoring during that comeback with a pair of three-balls and a lay-up.
Green's lay-up, which made it a six-point game, proved to be the final points of the night for the Falcons. Martin scored the next six points as Stonehill closed with an 8-0 run to lock up the victory.
Gemma led the Falcons with 16 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and two assists. Green's strong finish boosted her total to 12, and Mattice (3-5 from deep) followed with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists. Kollia's nine points, in 11 minutes, was a career-best, and Kluge helped out with eight.
Faieta, Martin and Marshall carried the scoring load for Stonehill, combining for 57 points on 23 of 35 shooting. Faieta made 10 of 14 shots, Martin was 8 of 13 and Marshall (12 points) finished 5 of 8. The rest of the Skyhawks were a combined 11 of 33 overall.
Stonehill outshot the visitors 50-44 percent, committed three less turns (12-15), had a big edge at the line (14-19 to 7-9) and controlled the boards, 44-30. Bentley's big advantage was from deep with the Falcons making 8 of 16 three-pointers.
Bentley will finish the season Tuesday night at Franklin Pierce.