WALTHAM, Mass. –Senior guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) matched her career-high with 21 points, leading the Bentley University women's basketball team to its ninth straight win, 72-66 win over Southern New Hampshire University in Northeast-10 Conference action Wednesday night at the Dana Center's Barbara Stevens Court.
With the win, coupled with Saint Anselm's overtime loss to Assumption, Bentley wrapped up the NE10's Northeast Division title. It's the fourth time in the six years that the conference has been split in divisions that Coach Stevens' team has finished on top and the 28th NE10 regular season championship all-time for the Falcons,
Bentley, ranked 14th in Division II by the WBCA, improved to 22-2 overall and 16-1 in conference play. Southern New Hampshire dropped to 15-9 overall, including 9-8 NE10.
The Falcons had the lead for nearly 38 minutes but it wasn't easy as the Penmen had two shots to tie the game with a little over 60 seconds remaining. That came after an 8-0 SNHU run that made it 63-61.
After those two misses, Bentley senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) converted a three-point play when she scored off an inbound play. The Falcons locked up the victory by making six of six free throws in the final 42 seconds, including four from sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./Edgewood HS).
Bentley finished the opening quarter with a 16-7 lead after limiting the visitors to just one field goal in ten attempts.
In the second quarter with the difference five, Bentley embarked on a 17-6 burst to go up 16, 37-21. McConnell had seven of those, including a triple from the right corner and a lay-up after a steal.
The Bentley lead was down to six by halftime after SNHU scored the final ten points of the first half, including two three-pointers and a fast-break lay-up by junior guard Molly Terry (Shrewsbury).
Bentley restored the differential to ten twice in the second half, with a McConnell three with 6:32 left in the third making it 46-36 and a trey from junior guard Maddy Springfield (Jaffrey, N.H./ Conant HS) with 4:50 to play in the fourth making it 63-53.
McConnell scored her 21 by making eight of 12 shots overall, three of four three-balls and two of three free throws. She also finished with three steals, three rebounds and two assists.
Three other Falcons joined her in doubles with Lux providing 13 points and seven rebounds, Meriggioli 11 and senior forward Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) 10. Springfield had another solid night with three treys for nine points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Senior forward Kylie Lorenzen (Holliston) led SNHU with 27 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Both teams shot about 46 percent but Bentley had four more threes, 9-5, and two more free throws, 11-9. Rebounds favored the home team, 36-30, and the Falcons had an 18-7 advantage in assists.
Bentley will be back at on Barbara Stevens Court Saturday to host Saint Anselm College at 1:30. That will be both the Falcons' Pink Day and Senior Day.