No. 7 Bentley Hosts Adelphi Wednesday, Looking to Elevate Stevens into 1,000-Win Club

Coach Stevens
Coach Stevens

WALTHAM, Mass. – 1,000 wins.  Think about it.  That's 25 wins a season for 40 years.  It's a total that only a half-dozen NCAA basketball coaches (four women's, two men's) have amassed.

The list of 1,000-game winners reads like a Who's Who of coaches. Pat Summit. Tara VanDerveer. Geno Auriemma. Sylvia Hatchell. Mike Krzyzewski. Herb Magee. All six have been enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

That number could grow by one as soon as Wednesday evening when Women's Basketball Hall of Famer Barbara Stevens puts her team out on the Dana Center court to take on Adelphi University in Northeast-10 Conference play. Tip-off is set for 5:30 pm with a free webcast available at www.bentleyfalcons.tv.

Stevens, 999-274 in 41 seasons as a head coach and 842-184 in 32 Bentley winters, moved to within one of that magical number on Saturday when the nation's seventh-ranked Division II team used a closing 25-6 run to overtake the University of New Haven, 82-70.

The victory over the Chargers boosted Bentley to 16-1 on the season, including 10-1 Northeast-10 and 10-0 away from Waltham. Six of those road wins have come during the team's current eight-game win streak.

Adelphi, a program that has given the Falcons difficulties in recent years, will come into the game looking to climb back over .500 after dropping to 9-9 overall and 5-5 NE10 with a 62-59 loss to St. Michael's. The Panthers are 5-3 since mid-December after starting the season at 4-6.

Adelphi has won four in a row over the Falcons, including 67-59 down on Long Island in last season's Northeast-10 championship game, with Bentley seeking its first win in the series since the 2014 NE10 title game.

In the win at New Haven, junior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) elevated her team-leading averages to 13.8 points and 9.5 rebounds with her fourth 20-10 game, her first since early December, and eighth double-double. The NE10's top offensive rebounder finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds while making 10 of 17 from the floor.

Bentley's other double-figure scorers are graduate guard Becca Musgrove (Plainview, N.Y./St. Anthony's HS) and senior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS), at 11.4 and 11.2, respectively. So far this month, Musgrove has shot the ball at a 53 percent success rate and Green has knocked down 52 percent of her 3's (11/21).

From the bench, Stevens has been receiving contributions from several players, including sophomore forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS) and freshman forward Marissa Fontaine (Franklin/Bishop Feehan HS). Viapiano scored a dozen at New Haven and has made 12 of 18 from the floor in the last three games. Fontaine, third in the NE10 in three-point accuracy (Green is second), also scored 12 Saturday with her offense including three triples.

The team that second-year Adelphi coach Missy Traversi is putting on the floor this season has a significantly different look from the 2017 NE10 championship team as she had to replace four starters, including a pair of first-team All-Conference performers, Sierra Clark and Calli Balfour.

While that team featured its frontcourt, the current edition of the Panthers is more guard-oriented. Five-seven senior Simone Hobdy leads the team in scoring (12.0) and assists (51), and despite her height, is a force on the boards (7.8 a game).

Sophomore guard Fallyn Stephens, the Panthers' other double-figure scorer (10.4), is one of the NE10's top three-point shooters, ranking first in makes (49) and seventh in accuracy (.392). Junior guard Niajah Morgan, who had 17 in the championship game, scores 9.7 a game and six-foot senior Natalie Fekula is tied for the team-lead in rebounds (7.8).

Bentley leads the NE10 in scoring at 78.4 points per game, a level that Adelphi has reached only twice this season. The Falcons are also number one in scoring defense (56.5), field goal percentage defense (.343) and rebound margin (9.6) while Adelphi ranks number one in offensive rebounds (15.4).

Bentley, which owns a half-game lead over Stonehill in the NE10 Northeast Division standings, will also be at home on Saturday for a 1:30 pm game against Southern Connecticut State.