NCAA TOURNAMENT: #1 Bentley Battles Past #4 Stonehill, 79-63

Senior Mary Louise Dixon led the Skyhawks with 15 points, seven rebounds and two assists. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

Finn and Gemma combine for 32 to lead Falcons to fourth-straight regional final 

WALTHAM, Mass. (March 15, 2014) – Top-seeded and host Bentley University, ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports Division II poll, broke away down the stretch to claim a 79-63 victory over fourth-seeded Stonehill College in semifinal round action of the 2014 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament East Regional at the Dana Athletic Center tonight.

Bentley (31-0, 21-0 NE-10) advances to the East Regional championship game for the fourth straight year where it will face third-seeded LIU Post (24-6, 18-2 ECC) on Monday night at 7 p.m. The Pioneers advanced with an 85-83 triumph over second-seeded Adelphi University (23-8, 14-6 NE-10) in tonight's first semifinal. Stonehill wraps up its season with a 19-10 record overall, making its 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, including a 14-7 clip in the Northeast-10.

Post grad Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop) and freshman Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) combined for 32 points as the duo both scored a game-high 16 points. Finn shot 4-for-6 from the field, including 1-for-3 from three-point range, while converting all seven free-throw attempts to go with five rebounds and two assists. Gemma made 7-of-11 shots from the field off the bench with five boards. Senior Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames) added 15 points, three boards and three assists, while classmate Caleigh Crowell (Harwich, Mass./Worcester Academy) rounded out the Falcons double-figure scorers with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds, a blocked shot and two steals.

Junior Tori Faieta scored 12 points to go with three rebounds and two blocked shots in 17 minutes of play. (PHOTO BY SportsPix)

Senior Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) led Stonehill with 15 points in her final collegiate game, shooting 6-for-17 from the field, including 2-for-8 from three-point range, to go with a team-high seven rebounds and two assists. Sophomore Shannon Brown (Las Vegas, Nev./Centennial) rounded out a strong postseason stretch with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, connecting on her lone three-pointer, with four boards. Junior Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) scored 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting in just 17 minutes of play with three boards and two blocked shots. Senior Abbey Lalime (Orleans, Vt./Lake Region Union) matched her career high with nine points by making all four shots from the field, including a three, in 13 bench minutes.

Bentley shot slightly better at 47.4-percent (27-for-57) from the field, including 50% (13-26) in the opening half, hitting just 5-of-17 (29.4%) three-pointers. The Falcons enjoyed an overwhelming advantage at the free-throw line, outscoring Stonehill 20-3 on 24 attempts (83.3%) compared to seven (42.9%) for the visitors. Bentley also held a 37-32 rebounding edge, resulting in a 12-7 margin for second chance points, and outscored Stonehill 26-11 in points off turnovers. Stonehill finished shooting 45% (27-60) from the field, including 6-for-19 (31.6%) from beyond the arc.

Bentley held a five point halftime lead (38-33) and extended its advantage to 11 (48-37) after two Finn free-throws with 14:45 to play. Stonehill closed the gap to five (50-45) after a Brown layup with 12:58 on the clock. Pelletier and Lalime both drained three pointers during that stretch. The Skyhawks trimmed the deficit to four (54-50) with a three point play from Dixon with 10:27 to go. Stonehill had four chances to pull within a possession during a three minute spell for the Falcons without a basket.

Gemma snapped the modest drought with a layup that sparked six straight points, four from her, that restored Bentley's double-digit lead (61-50) after a Finn layup with 7:07 on the clock. Stonehill traded baskets with the hosts and was down nine (68-59) after a three-pointer from senior Asia Ewing (Westford, Mass./Westford Academy) with 4:46 left, but Bentley scored the next eight to seal the victory and a 17 point advantage (76-59) after a Battista triple with 1:51 to go.

Stonehill stormed out of the gates with a 12-6 lead at the first media timeout after a Brown three-pointer. The Skyhawks lead was still six (14-8) with a Faieta layup five minutes in, when Bentley closed within one (14-13) with a Crowell three-pointer a minute later. Stonehill reclaimed a five point cushion (18-13) after a Faieta basket with 11:58 to play in the half. The Skyhawks lead was still four (20-16) on a Lalime jumper with 11:26 remaining when Bentley reeled off a 16-2 run to take a ten point lead (32-22) after senior Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./Wachusett Regional) with 5:56 left in the half.

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