Brugliera leads strong Bentley effort
WALTHAM, Mass. – Freshman forward Jacqui Brugliera amassed 25 points and 13 rebounds, and three other first-year players combined for 31 points and 18 rebounds, as Bentley University, the number one seed in the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball East Regional, advanced with a wire-to-wire 75-67 win against C.W. Post Friday evening at the Dana Center.
Bentley, 26-4, will meet the winner of the final quarterfinal, fourth-seeded Assumption College or fifth-seeded Saint Rose, in Sunday’s semifinals, with tip-off set for 2:30 pm.
“Survive and advance, that’s what we did,” Bentley Hall of Fame coach Barbara Stevens said, who notched her 800th career win against C.W. Post back in December. “It wasn’t an artistic success,” she said of the foul-plagued contest, “and you have to give C.W. Post a lot of credit.”
Although C.W. Post (17-13) opened the game by missing its first 13 shots, the eighth-seeded Pioneers were within one, 48-47, with 14 minutes to play after a fast-break lay-up by junior guard Felicia Joyner capped an 8-0 run.
Bentley countered with a 16-2 run that made it a 64-49 Falcon advantage with 8:42 left. Junior post Shatasia Kearse got things started with a pair of free throws. Freshman point guard Christiana Bakolas drove the baseline for a basket, Kearse hit another lay-up, and both Brugliera and Bakolas made two from the line, extending the Falcon advantage to 11, 58-47.
After a Pioneer basket, the Falcon spurt continued with a lay-up and two free throws from freshman forward Lauren Barrista, and two more from the stripe by Bakolas.
“We showed a tremendous among of courage at that point,” said Stevens about the stretch that limited the Pioneers to two points over a span of five-and-a-half minutes. “We have some grit, some toughness on this team.”
C.W. Post didn’t go away after Bentley extended the advantage from one to 15 points. In fact, they tallied a late 8-0 run to get within seven, 72-65, with 90 seconds left on the game clock. Four of those were scored by Joyner, who put up a 22-point effort.
One of two free throws from junior guard Katherine Goodwin and two more from Bakolas restored the lead to double figures at 75-65, and Bentley had its first NCAA tournament victory since 2007.
Bentley scored the game’s first eight points, six of those tallied by Brugliera, with C.W. Post scoreless until a lay-up from sophomore Nicolette Marcinek 5:48 into the contest.
The Falcons stretched the first-half lead to 20-7 after 11-plus minutes, but by intermission, the spread was down to seven, 34-27. The frontcourt trio of Brugliera, Battista and Kearse combined for 23 of Bentley’s points in a half that saw neither team shoot well (Bentley 37 percent, Saint Rose 29.7 percent).
Bentley’s quartet of first-year players combined for 56 points and 31 rebounds. Brugliera earned her 25 points on 8 of 21 shooting overall, two of three from 3 and seven of 10 from the free-throw line. Five of her 13 boards came at the offensive end.
Battista, with 12 points and 10 rebounds, also had a double-double, and Bakolas came off the bench to provide 10 points and two helpers in only 12 minutes. Sophomore guard Courtney Finn, who missed last season with an injury and therefore is in her first year of collegiate play, added nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
Senior Kim Brennan chipped in with six assists and five points, which moved her into fifth on Bentley’s all-time list with 1,655 points. That also made her the highest scoring guard in the program’s distinguished history. Kearse matched Bakolas with 10 points off the Falcon bench.
Joyner’s 22 included a 9-for-9 effort from the foul stripe. Senior guard Janae Aiken, the East Coast Conference Player of the Year, followed with 13 points, but was just 6-of-19 shooting.
Bentley finished with a slight shooting advantage, 38-36 percent, but C.W. Post actually scored eight more points from the field. The Falcons had a huge edge at the line, making 29 of 38 as compared to the Pioneers’ 13 of 20. Three more rebounds (45-42) and four additional second-chance points (18-14) also contributed to the win.