SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Senior guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) scored all seven of the Falcons' OT points, including a game-winning three from the right side with 3.8 seconds left, and tournament MVP Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) finished with a career-best 22 points as Bentley University rallied to capture their 20th Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Championship, 73-72 over top-seeded Stonehill College Sunday afternoon at Bryant University's Chace Athletic Center.
Bentley, which cut down a net for the 35th time in coach Barbara Stevens' 32 years at the helm, trailed by as many as 14 in the third quarter. Ranked 12th in the latest WBCA Division II coaches poll, the Falcons scored the final seven points of the fourth quarter and overcame a 72-68 deficit with 43.2 seconds left in OT.
Smith's three for the win gave the 27-3 Falcons their first lead since the opening minutes of the first quarter.
The Falcons' overtime comeback began with Smith sinking two free throws with 36.6 seconds remaining. Down two, Bentley got the ball back on a Smith steal with 13 seconds left. Graduate guard Becca Musgrove (Plainview, N.Y./St. Anthony's HS) missed a potential tying shot but the ball went out of bounds to Bentley, setting the stage for Smith's heroics.
Stonehill, 26-3 with a number 13 ranking, saw its final possession end on a Lewis strip, her fourth steal of the game and the Falcons' 12th.
In regulation, Bentley was looking at a 66-59 hole after sophomore Grace Carter (Arlington, Mass.) scored on a driving lay-up with 2:07 remaining.
The comeback began with a second-chance lay-up from junior All-Conference center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) with 1:50 to play. The Skyhawks turned the ball over on their next three possessions with Bentley pulling within one, 66-65, with a lefty floater by Smith and a driving lay-up from Lewis.
Following the third turn, Lewis was fouled and went to the line with 21.6 seconds showing. The first was off the mark (Bentley's only missed free throw in 21 attempts) but she drained the second for the tie.
Lewis came up with the steal on the Skyhawks' ensuing possession, giving Bentley a chance to win in regulation. However, Smith's attempt from three was short and the game was headed to OT.
Bentley, after shooting only 9 of 35 in the first half, fell behind 45-31 when Stonehill opened the third quarter with an 8-5 run. The Falcons got back in the contest with an 11-4 run over the next three minutes, drawing within seven at 49-42 with 2:05 left in the third. That surge included a lay-up from sophomore forward Monica Viapiano (Holden, Mass,/Holy Name HS), two free throws from senior guard Trevena Bennett (Union, N.J./Gill St. Bernard School), a jumper in the paint from junior guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS), a lay-up from Lux and a Lewis three-ball.
Bentley drew within three with 6:55 to play in regulation before Stonehill pushed it back to eight with five unanswered from senior guard Kelly Martin (Scituate, Mass.). Martin finished with 29 points, on 10-of-15 shooting, and 10 rebounds.
Lewis, a junior forward who had the three highest scoring games of the season during the tournament, shot 7 of 13 overall, made five of nine from distance and converted three of four free throws. She also stuffed the stat sheet with 11 rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block.
Viapiano was the only other Falcon to finish in doubles as she provided 10 points and five rebounds off the bench. Smith and Lux both had nine, with Smith also finishing with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Senior forward Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Mass.) was second to Martin in scoring for Stonehill with 14 points. Senior center Elizabeth Grip also played a key role with seven of her team's ten blocked shots.
Points off turnovers (23-7) and a .952 free throw percentage were positive team stats for the Falcons, who were outshot 41-32 percent and outrebounded 45-43.
Bentley will receive the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division II East Regional. The field and site for the regional will be announced at 10 pm tonight on www.NCAA.com.