Bentley rallies past Franklin Pierce
Falcons close game on 7-0 run to advance in NCAA tournament
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Jacqui Brugliera capped a game-ending 7-0 run with an offensive rebound and put-back with 6.8 seconds left to give Bentley a hard-fought 54-52 win against Franklin Pierce in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball East Regional on Saturday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, which trailed 52-47 before Kelsey Roberson sank a 3-pointer with 1:14 left, improved to 29-3 and advanced to the regional final for the second consecutive season and the 18th time in the last 25 years while giving coach Barbara Stevens her 850th career victory.
Bentley, which struggled offensively most of the night (29 percent shooting), had only one field goal in the previous five-and-a-half minutes before Roberson drained the 3-pointer to bring the Falcons within two. Lauren Battista came up with a steal on the inbound, and took it in for the game-tying lay-up with a minute left on the clock.
After Franklin Pierce's Jewel White missed from in close, Roberson grabbed the rebound. Her shot attempt at the other end was rejected by White with Bentley retaining possession with 11.9 seconds left and three seconds on the shot clock.
Bentley went inside to Battista, but her shot wouldn't fall. Brugliera corralled it -- Bentley's 16th offensive board of the night -- and put it back up to give the Falcons their first lead since the opening minutes of the second half. Before making that shot, the six-footer had struggled through a 2-for-12 effort against the Raven defense.
Franklin Pierce took a timeout with 3.6 seconds showing on the clock and inbounded to Brittany Martelle. She was forced into a long 3-point attempt that fell well short and the Falcons escaped with the victory.
Bentley got out to a strong start, building a 17-9 lead midway through the first, with Crowell scoring the final five points of a 9-0 run. Franklin Pierce quickly got back within four, and the two teams remained close for the rest of the half with the Falcons going into the break up 30-28 after the Ravens scored the final four points.
The Franklin Pierce run grew to 14-3 after the second half got underway, with a right-corner 3-pointer by Katherine Goodwin the only Falcon points in a span of over nine minutes. That enabled the visitors to open a 38-33 lead.
Bentley tied the game twice after that, at 38-all and again at 42, before Pierce used a 7-3 spurt to go up 49-45 with four minutes left. That grew to 52-47 when White made two free throws with 1:30 remaining.
Crowell and Battista topped the scoring list for Bentley, finishing with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Crowell nailed three triples off the bench, and Battista also accumulated four rebounds and three steals. Brugliera and Courtney Finn each followed with seven in a game that points were at a premium throughout.
Lekia Cowan led Franklin Pierce with 15 points, but Battista and Brugliera helped to contain White and Marielle Giroud. They were a combined 4-of-16 from the floor and each scored only nine points. The duo teamed up to average 32 points per game during the season.
Franklin Pierce, which finished the season at 20-10, outshot the Falcons 37 percent to 29 percent, but Bentley limited the Ravens to 21 percent in the second half and attempted 16 more shots overall. FPU spent most of the second half at the line (18 attempts to the Falcons' four) after having attempted none in the first 20 minutes.
Bentley was outrebounded, 41-36, but finished with a 13-5 advantage in second-chance points. The Falcons also took excellent care of the ball, with only 10 turnovers, nearly half the number Franklin Pierce had (19).