OAKDALE, N.Y. – Senior guard Courtney Finn had 16 points and a season-best 11 rebounds as Bentley remained undefeated with a hard-fought 59-54 win against Dowling on Tuesday.
Bentley, which remained second in this week’s USA Today Division II coaches poll, improved to 8-0 while extending its winning streak against East Region opposition to 21 games. Dowling slipped to 5-2 on the season.
After six-foot-three Baylor transfer Danielle Wilson gave the Dowling its only lead of the final 32 minutes with a lay-up with 3:22 left at 51-49, Finn beat the shot clock, connecting from about 23 feet with 2:51 remaining to put Bentley back in front, 52-51.
Finn rebounded a Wilson miss at the defensive end before helping out again on offense, this time feeding senior forward Caleigh Crowell on a lay-up that put Bentley up three with 2:13 left.
Dowling missed two free throws and a jumper on its ensuing possession. Following a defensive board by Crowell, junior All-America forward Lauren Battista sank her seventh and eighth free throws of the night, extending the Falcon advantage to five with 1:27 remaining at 56-51.
Junior forward Rekik Worku buried a straightaway three for Dowling with 1:02 left, making it a two-point game before Bentley locked up the contest by draining three of four free throws in the final 33.2 seconds. Senior guard Kelsey Roberson sank the second of two, and junior guard Christiana Bakolas sealed the deal with her two with 5.8 seconds left, making it a two-point game.
Bentley, which gave up six points before losing the zero on the scoreboard, offset Dowling’s early hot shooting by connecting five times from downtown in the first ten minutes. The last two, from Crowell and Finn, put the visitors up five 19-14.
The Falcons pitched a shutout over the final 5:10 of the first half, scoring ten unanswered points to take a game-high 12-point lead into the break. Dowling, which had started the game six of eight from the field, was limited to two of 16 over the final 12 minutes of the opening half with Wilson, a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2009, scoreless in the first.
Wilson had five during an 11-2 second-half run that reduced Bentley’s lead from 12 to three, 39-36, with 12:47 left. A put-back by junior forward Jacqui Brugliera and two Battista free throws temporarily slowed Dowling, but six straight Golden Lion points brought the home team within one 43-42 with 7:35 to play.
After DC missed four potential go-ahead lay-ups, Brugliera scored from in close to make it a three-point game with 6:35 on the clock. Bentley maintained a slim lead until a second-chance basket by senior guard Connie Simmons tied the game at 49-49. Her free throw attempt to complete the three-point play wouldn’t go, but following her defensive board, Wilson’s lay-up gave Dowling a short-lived lead, one that vanished about 30 seconds later on Finn’s big three-ball.
Finn finished 7 of 16 with two three-pointers, and in addition to her first double-double of the year, came up with three steals. Crowell followed her in the scoring column, providing nine off the bench, and the Falcons received eight apiece from Battista (six rebounds, five assists), Brugliera (eight rebounds) and sophomore guard Kelsey Mattice (two trifectas).
Simmons led Dowling with 16 points and nine rebounds, and Wilson, who came in averaging nearly 19, was limited to 11 points on 5 of 16 shooting.
Neither team shot well (Dowling with the slight edge, 37-35 percent), but Bentley grabbed one more rebound (41-40), committed three less turnovers (13-16) and was more effective at the line. The Falcons finished 13 of 19 at the stripe while Dowling missed seven of 15.