WALTHAM, Mass. – After exchanging 11-point wins during the regular season, the Bentley University Falcons and the Stonehill College Skyhawks will renew acquaintances Sunday afternoon with the 108th edition of the rivalry coming in the 2018 Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Championship game.
Due to power outages on the Stonehill campus, the game will now be played at 2 pm at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I. with a free webcast available at www.northeast10.tv.
Bentley, which owns a 69-38 advantage in the all-time series, reached the title game for the 28th time by besting Pace University in last week's quarters, 70-62, and Southern Connecticut State in Thursday's semis, 64-51. Stonehill, the regular season champion in the Northeast Division, advanced with wins over Adelphi (90-65) and Le Moyne (58-55).
The two programs have a long postseason history, one that includes 27 prior meetings. They've met in the conference championship tournament 16 times, with Bentley winning 11 of those, and in the NCAA tournament 11 times, with the Falcons capturing eight of those. The most recent meeting came in the 2017 quarters, a game won by Bentley 54-40.
This will be the seventh time the two longtime foes will square off with the Northeast-10 championship at stake, but the first time in 20 years it has happened. Bentley defeated Stonehill in the title game in 1985, 1992, 1993 and 1998 while the Skyhawks earned the championship in 1987 and 1997.
Bentley, a finalist for the seventh time in eight years, is the only team with players who have championship game experience. The Falcons, who will be playing in their 28th NE10 championship, have won the title a record 19 times, most recently in 2016 when Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England), now a junior forward, led Bentley to a 67-60 win over American International with 18 points. Last year, the Falcons were denied by Adelphi in the finals, 67-59.
Stonehill has played for the championship ten times previously, most recently in 2010 when coach Trisha Brown's team lost to Franklin Pierce. The championships for the Skyhawks came in 1983, 1987, 1995, 1997 and 2008 while the other final appearances came in 1985, 1992, 1993 and 1998.
This season, Bentley is 26-3 overall with a five-game winning streak and Stonehill is 26-2 with 17 consecutive wins. This past week's Women's Basketball Coaches Association rankings had Bentley ranked 12th and the Skyhawks 13th. The two were flip-flopped in the NCAA Division II East Region rankings with Stonehill first and Bentley second.
The two teams are 1-2 in the conference in scoring with Bentley averaging 74.5 and Stonehill 70.5. Coach Barbara Stevens' Falcons are also number one in the NE10 in scoring margin, rebound margin and field goal attempts per game. Stonehill leads the conference in free throw percentage, defensive rebounds, assists, blocks and opponents' field goal percentage.
Leading scorers for Bentley are first-team All-Conference center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/ Thornton Academy), graduate guard Becca Musgrove (Plainview, N.Y./St. Anthony's HS) and senior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS). Lux averages 13.5 points and 9.4 rebounds, Musgrove (15 shy of 1,000 as a collegian) follows at 11.8, and Green will bring a 10.3 average into her third NE10 final.
Lewis has had her best two games of the season during the previous two rounds of the NE10's, averaging 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. She's played in ten career postseason games, leading the Falcons to a 9-1 record while scoring 13.1 ppg.
Stonehill guard Kelly Martin was named the NE10 Player of the Year earlier in the week after a senior season that has seen her average 15.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Other weapons for the Skyhawks include Samantha Hyslip (13.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and NE10 Defensive Player of the Year Elizabeth Grip (99 blocks).
In the head-to-head match-ups this season, they leading scorers have been Lux (19.0) and Musgrove (15.5) for Bentley and Martin (19.5) and Hyslip (15.0) for Stonehill.
Regardless of the outcome of the championship game, both teams should hear their names called when the field for the NCAA tournament is announced during a selection show on NCAA.com Sunday night at 10 pm.