Bentley Clips Stonehill Down the Stretch, 59-47

Senior Kristen McWhirter led the Skyhawks with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting overall, including 2-for-4 from deep. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr) 

Brugliera double-double leads Falcons to NE-10 regular season title

EASTON, Mass. (February 23, 2011) – Bentley University, ranked 20th in this week's USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Division II poll and first in the NCAA II East Regional rankings, used a late run to post a 59-47 victory over Stonehill College, ranked tenth in the region, in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action before a crowd of 1,443 at Merkert Gymnasium tonight.

Stonehill (17-10, 12-10 NE-10) will be seeded eighth for the Northeast-10 Tournament and will host ninth-seeded Southern New Hampshire University for a first round matchup on Sunday at Merkert Gymnasium at 1 p.m. Bentley (22-4, 19-3 NE-10) clinched the NE-10 regular season championship outright and the top seed for the NE-10 Tournament set to start over the weekend. The Falcons have a first round bye and will host the winner of the Stonehill/Southern New Hampshire opening round game in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, March 1, at 7 p.m.

Freshman Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./Wachusett Regional) led Bentley with a double-double effort of 21 points and 18 rebounds (seven offensive) to go with six blocked shots and two steals. She made 7-of-14 shots from the field, including 1-for-2 from three-point range, and converted 6-of-8 free-throws for the night. Sophomore Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop) added 21 points, shooting 4-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, and converting her lone free-throw attempt, five rebounds and three steals. Junior Shatasia Kearse (Framingham, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury) contributed ten points, seven boards (four offensive) and three blocks off the bench, while freshman Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames) chipped in eight points, eight rebounds (four offensive), four assists and two steals.

Freshman Mary Louise Dixon collected ten points, six rebounds, seven steals and four steals. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr) 

Senior Kristen McWhirter (Melvin Village, N.H./New Hampton Prep) led Stonehill with 13 points, shooting 5-for-7 from the field, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, while converting his lone free-throw attempt, while adding two blocked shots and two steals. Classmate Emily Rousseau (Biddeford, Maine/Biddeford) contributed 12 points, two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal, while freshman Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) filled the stat sheet with ten points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Freshman Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) chipped in with a team-high seven rebounds (four offensive).

Bentley shot 35-percent (21-for-60) from the field, including 37.9% (11-29) in the second half, and finished with a 51-36 rebounding advantage. The Falcons outscored Stonehill 14-6 on second chance points, and settled down after turning the ball over 12 times in the first half with just six over the final 20 minutes. Stonehill finished shooting 29-percent (18-for-62) from the field, including 7-for-32 (21.9%) in the second half, just 4-for-17 (23.5%) from three-point range and converted 7-of-11 (63.6%) free-throw attempts for the night.

Bentley used an 11-1 run over a two minute span to turn a three point Stonehill lead (40-37) after a Rousseau jumper with 7:34 to play into a seven point advantage (48-41) following a four-point play by Finn with 5:14 on the clock. Finn had seven points in all during that run as another three-pointer put the Falcons in front for good with 6:17 to play.

Stonehill drew within three (50-47) after two free-throws by junior Tania Williams (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward-Melville) with 2:44 to play, but the Skyhawks wouldn't net a field goal over the final 2:27, missing their final six shots. Bentley closed the game out with the final nine points, all at the free-throw line, pulling out the win despite going the final 4:46 with a shot from the field.

The first half featured four ties and one lead change before Stonehill used a 10-0 run to open an 11 point lead (27-16) after a steal and layup by Dixon with 2:27 left before halftime. Dixon had five points in all during that stretch, while McWhirter added a conventional three-point play. The Falcons closed the gap to five (27-22) at the half with six-straight points by Kearse.

Stonehill pushed its lead to six (30-24) with a Rousseau three 1:35 into the second half, but Bentley forged a 30-30 tie on a Battista jumper with 15:11 to play. The Skyhawks regained a four point cushion (36-32) with a Dixon three with 12:18 remaining, but the Falcons took their first lead of the half (37-36) with 9:22 left, with a Brugliera three and Battista layup. Stonehill answered with two-straight jumpers from Rousseau for its final three point lead (40-37) with 7:34 left leading up to Bentley's closing run.