EASTON, Mass. – No. 14 Stonehill claimed its first win against a top-ranked opponent in program history with a 73-66 triumph against No. 1 Bentley before an Alumni Day crowd at Merkert Gymnasium on Saturday.
The Skyhawks snapped Bentley’s 37-game winning streak against East Region opponents with their first victory against the Falcons since a 74-56 decision in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament.
Junior guard Mary Louise Dixon engineered the win by scoring 16 points with five assists, four rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. Sophomore Amy Pelletier scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first half as Stonehill broke out to an 11-point (39-28) halftime advantage by making all four shots from the field, including three 3-pointers, as she finished shooting 5-for-6 and converted all four free-throw attempts.
Junior Asia Ewing added 14 points, a team-high eight rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots for Stonehill, while sophomore Tori Faieta also contributed 14 points on 6 of 12 shooting, five assists, four boards, two blocks and a steal. Sophomore Ashley Gendron chipped in with six rebounds.
Senior Courtney Finn and junior Lauren Battista combined for 32 points to lead the way for Bentley.
Stonehill finished shooting 47.3 percent (26-for-55) from the field, including 53.8 percent (14-for-26) in a first half in which the Skyhawks were shooting nearly 70 percent from the field.
Both lead changes and the lone tie in the contest came in the opening two minutes before Stonehill used a 13-2 run to open a 10-point lead (15-5) after a layup from freshman Paige Marshall five minutes into the game, with Dixon and Faieta netting 3-pointers. After a Bentley layup at the other end from senior Caleigh Crowell, Pelletier scored a triple to boost the lead to 11 (18-7) with 13:37 to play in the half.
Bentley closed back within five (20-15) after a 3-pointer by sophomore Kelsey Mattice just over a minute later. Stonehill scored eight consecutive points to run the lead out to 15 (34-19) with seven minutes remaining. The Skyhawks extended the margin to 16 (39-23) when junior Abbey Lalime made 1 of 2 at the line with 2:31 left before halftime.
Stonehill settled on the 11-point (39-28) halftime lead, but opened the second half with a 13-5 spurt to open a game-high 19-point advantage (52-33) after a three-point play from Ewing with 14:20 remaining. The Skyhawks lead was still 18 (59-41) with a Gendron layup with 10:53 to go.
Bentley cut the gap to nine (59-50) after a Finn layup with 8:46 remaining, but Stonehill was able to hold. The Skyhawks pushed the lead back to 12 (64-52) when Faieta converted a three-point play with 6:32 remaining. The Falcons drew within six (68-62) on a Crowell three with 1:34 to play, but that was as close as they would get as Stonehill made 5 of 8 free throws during the final 48 seconds, including four by Pelletier, to hold Bentley at arm’s length and clinch the victory.