WALTHAM, Mass. -- Fifth-year senior forward Caleigh Crowell had an outstanding all-around game, with her line including 4-of-5 from 3-point land, and All-Region grad student Courtney Finn knocked down 14 of 16 free throws en route to a game-high 23 points as undefeated Bentley notched its 30th victory of the season 80-65 against eighth-seeded Bloomfield in the first round of the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball East Regional Friday night at the Dana Center.
Bloomfield gave the Falcons all they could handle for most of the game and actually had a one-point lead 58-57 after sophomore guard Ariel Wilson knocked down a 3 from the top-of-the-key with 10:38 left.
Bentley quickly regained the lead when senior All-Conference forward Jacqui Brugliera hit a pair of free throws 15 seconds later. That began an 8-0 burst that included two Brugliera lay-ups, one of which just beat the shot clock, and a second-chance basket from senior All-America Lauren Battista.
Wilson netted the game's next three points, bringing the Deacons (20-10) to within four with 5:50 left.The rest of the game belonged to the Falcons, who closed with a 15-4 spurt during the final 5:33, a stretch in which they held Bloomfield to one field goal in five attempts and forced three turnovers.
One free throw by freshman forward Jen Gemma and two by Finn made it 68-61. After a Wilson free throw, the Falcons extended their lead with ten points in a row, all but two coming from the free throw stripe. Finn had six of the ten, with a driving lay-up and four free throws.
Bentley got off to a strong start, hitting eight of its first 11 shots, including four triples (two by Crowell, one apiece for Finn and Battista), to build a 24-13 lead. The Falcons went cold after that, misfiring on 16 of their next 18, and the lead stood at one 37-36 at the break.
There were six lead changes in the first ten minutes of the second half, the last coming when Brugliera drained the two free throws to make it 59-58.
Crowell couldn't have shot much better as she made six of seven overall, including the four from outside the arc. She also contributed with five rebounds, three rejections and two steals. Finn, who surpassed 1,500 career points, complemented her 23 points with six rebounds and three assists.
Bentley's five double-figure scorers also included Gemma (12), Brugliera (12) and Battista (11). Brugliera topped the Falcons on the boards with seven, and Gemma (8-10 free throws) added six in her first career NCAA tournament game. Senior point guard Christiana Bakolas delivered ten assists for Bentley.
Freshman guard Tianna Smith led Bloomfield with 18 points and Wilson followed with a dozen.
Bloomfield shot slightly better 44-43 percent, and had four more field goals. However, the Falcons had a huge advantage at the line with Finn single-handedly making and attempting more than the Deacons as a team (8-12). Bentley shot 88 percent from the stripe, hitting 30 of 34, and also dominated the boards 38-26.