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basketball-women-d2 flag | March 9, 2014

DII: Battista lifts Bentley to fourth consecutive title

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Senior All-America forward Lauren Battista tied her career-best with 29 points, eclipsing the 2,000-mark for her career in the process, and collected an unprecedented fourth consecutive Northeast-10 Conference championship most outstanding player award as Bentley put together a strong offensive performance en route to its fourth consecutive NE-10 title, winning 99-76 against Adelphi on Sunday afternoon at the Dana Center.

Bentley, the season-long No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II coaches' poll, ran its record to 29-0 and clinched the automatic berth into next weekend's NCAA Division II East Regional. It was the second time in conference history a team has won four consecutive championships, with his year's group of Falcons duplicating their predecessors from 1998-2001. All-time,  Bentley has 18 NE-10 titles to its credit, including 10 in the last 17 years.

Battista played in her school-record 127th career start as she hit 11 of 17 shots overall, including 3 of 5 from downtown, and all four of her free throws. In addition, she provided six assists, four rebounds and one steal, and turned the ball over just once in 31 minutes of action.

Bentley's all-time leading scorer joined the 2,000-point club with an inside move at 6:19 of the first half, a basket that made it 50-23 at the time. She had 21 points by the break, helping the Falcons 64 points (a school record for a half) and a 27-point lead, and finished the game with 2,011 for her career.

Caleigh Crowell also drilled five three-pointers en route to a 22-point afternoon, 15 of which came before intermission.

Southwestern Oklahoma 78, No. 2 Harding 74

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -- Harding, ranked No. 2 in Division II and No. 1 in the Central Region, lost a tough 78-74 decision to Southwestern Oklahoma on Sunday in the finals of the Great American Conference tournament at Bruin Fieldhouse.

It was only the second loss of the season for Harding, which will await its NCAA tournament fate.

Harding (29-2) led 68-55 with 8:39 left but was outscored 23-6 down the stretch.

All five of Harding's starters scored 10 or more points. Freshman A'ndi Haney led the Lady Bisons with 18 points. Kristen Celsor scored 16 points, and Arielle Saunders, Montana Lewis, and Shana Holmes each had 10 points. Saunders led Harding with 13 rebounds.

Michelle Fisher and Taryn Sayama led Southwestern with 18 points each.

Southwestern Oklahoma (19-10) will receive the automatic berth into the Central Region Tournament by winning the GAC Tournament.

No. 25 Edinboro 86, No. 3 Gannon 76

EDINBORO, Pa. -- Edinboro rode an outstanding performance from tournament most outstanding player Valerie Majewski to an 86-76 win against third-ranked Gannon on Sunday afternoon in the 2014 PSAC Championship game. It marked the third win this season for 25th-ranked Edinboro, now 24-5, against Gannon, and the eighth in the past nine meetings. The Lady Knights fall to 27-3.

Edinboro has now won three of the past four PSAC Championships, with titles in 2011 and 2012 interrupted by Bloomsburg's win a year ago. The Fighting Scots also claim the automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional set for next weekend and will head to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year. Gannon was first in the Atlantic Region and Edinboro third at the start of the week.

Majewski was named the most oustanding player of the championships after scoring a career-high 33 points, tied for the sixth-highest single-game total in the PSAC playoffs. She added eight assists one day after tying the school record and breaking the PSAC playoff record for assists with 16 against West Chester on Saturday, along with five rebounds.

No. 7 Emporia State 75, No. 8 Central Missouri 71

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Emporia State picked up its second MIAA tournament championship with a 75-71 victory against No. 8 Central Missouri. The No. 7 Lady Hornets used a strong first half and held on to earn the MIAA’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Central Missouri would jump out first using an early 6-0 run to jump ahead, but ESU would answer with an 18-5 run later in the first half as they took a 38-29 lead into the break. In the second half UCM would chip away at the lead eventually tieing the game at 71-71 with 1:19 to play. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Merissa Quick would score the final four points of the game to secure the victory for ESU.

For the Lady Hornets, Quick led the way scoring 18 points on her way to becoming the first player to be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in back-to-back seasons. Kelly Moten scored 17 points, had five steals and also pulled down five rebounds while Merissa Quick added 11 points. For the Jennies Revonnia Howard had a double-double scoring 14 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. Shelby Winkelmann added 16 points and Keuna Flax finished the game with 15 points.

The Lady Hornets earn the conferences automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Tournament and will play in next week's Central Regional.

No. 9 Glenville State 74, Charleston (W. Va.) 50

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Glenville State captured the first Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament title with a 74-50 win against Charleston (W. Va.) on Saturday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center.

The Pioneers (27-3) were led by MEC tournament most outstanding player Kenyona Simmons who finished with 16 points. Ginny Mills added 12 points, Kenyell Goodson had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Tasia Bristow had 10 points and four assists. Mills, Goodson and Bristow were all named to the all-tournament team as well.

Charleston (21-7) was led by 17 points from LeAnne Ross. Chyress Lockhart contributed 13 points in the losing effort.

GSC used its defensive pressure to harass Charleston all afternoon. The Pioneers allowed UC to hit just 39 percent from the field, and forced 18 turnovers in the game and committed just two of its own.

No. 10 Nova Southeastern 64, No. 17 Tampa 55

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Nova Southeastern won its second Sunshine State Conference tournament title by knocking off top-seeded and No. 17 Tampa on Sunday evening at the Silver Spurs Arena 64-55.

The Sharks (25-4) built an 11-point halftime lead (37-26) by shooting 56 percent from the field. After the break, a Danielle Robinson 3-pointer ballooned the advantage to 14, and she answered a Tampa (22-6) 3 with another one to keep it at that margin. She scored the first eight in the second half for NSU.

Tampa would go on a 13-2 run to make it a three-point game, 47-44, with 11:49 left. Back-to-back baskets by Richelle Carach pushed it back out to seven, and though UT would later cut it to four, Carach would hit a lay-in followed by five in a row by Taylor Buie for an 11-point lead at 3:54.

From there, the closest the Spartans would get was six, 58-52 with 2:50 to go. An Amanda Burakoski offensive rebound and putback, and later, two free throws, made it 10 again, and Jasmine Wilkins enthusiastically closed out the scoring with two free throws with 37 seconds left.