WALTHAM, Mass. -- Senior All-Conference guard Kim Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) led five double-figure scorers with 20 points and Bentley University set a tournament record for field goal percentage (.625) as the top-seeded Falcons reached the semifinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Championships with an 83-61 win over ninth-seeded Southern New Hampshire University Tuesday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, a semifinalist for the 28th time in the tournament's 30-year history, improved to 23-4 overall and advanced to host fourth-seeded Saint Rose Friday night at 7 pm. The Golden Knights got a game-tying three at the end of regulation and went on to edge Pace University, 67-60.
It was a sensational shooting night for the Falcons, who connected at an 89 percent clip (16-18) during the first 12 minutes and 75 percent over the first half before finishing at .625. That broke a 21-year-old NE-10 tourney mark of .594, set by Bentley against American International in 1990.
Brennan, who set a Bentley scoring record with 35 points against Merrimack in the 2010 NE-10 quarters, led the hot shooting with a 9-for-12 performance. She knocked down one from three, but most of those came on drives to the basket. Her second 20-point effort of the season boosted her over 1,600 for her career, to 1,614.
Sophomore guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) and junior post Shatasia Kearse (Framingham/Lincoln-Sudbury Reg. HD) were also among the Falcons who had outstanding games. Finn knocked down three triples and finished with 12 points (tying her career-best) and a career-high nine rebounds. Kearse came off the bench for 14 points, on 6-of-6 shooting, and 11 rebounds.
The list of double-figure scorers also includes freshman forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/ Oliver Ames HS), with 12 points, and junior guard Katherine Goodwin (Goffstown, N.H./Governors Academy) with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Both also had five assists, second to the six recorded by freshman point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS). Freshman forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS), Bentley's leading scorer for the year, scored just eight as she was mired in foul trouble all night.
Bentley, ranked 17th nationally in Division II, took the lead early, using a 12-0 run to grab a 14-4 lead. The first five baskets of the spurt came on lay-ups, with Goodwin finishing three of those, and Brennan canned a short jumper for the Falcons' first double-digit lead of the night.
A 10-2 run, launched by back-to-back threes from Finn, made it 28-15, and the Falcons extended the lead to 38-20 with about five minutes left in the opening half.
Bentley, up 45-28 at the break, stretched the advantage to a game-high 24, 60-36, five-and-a-half minutes into the second. After the lead hit its peak, Southern New Hampshire (12-16) climbed back into the contest, using a 12-2 burst to reduce the deficit to 14, 62-48.
Brennan quieted SNHU by scoring four points during a 6-2 mini-run that restored the lead to 18, and the visitors never threatened again.
Grad student Julia Houghtaling (Franconia, N.H.), a six-foot forward, led Southern New Hampshire with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists in her final collegiate game. Sophomore guard Michelle DeRoma (West Roxbury) also had a solid game with 14 points.
Bentley limited SNHU to 41 percent shooting and dominated the boards, 35-24. The Falcons finished with advantages of 48-28 in the paint, 16-5 off turnovers (both teams lost it 13 times), 14-4 on the fast break and 21-8 in bench scoring.
Friday's game will be the second meeting of the year between the two clubs, with Saint Rose having won the first out in Albany, 70-60.
At Waltham, Mass. (Dana Center)
BENTLEY 83, SO. NEW HAMPSHIRE 61
SO. NEW HAMPSHIRE (12-16) -- Julia Houghtaling 8-15 4-8 20; Michelle DeRoma 5-12 2-2 14; Christine Duffy 3-6 1-2 8; Megan Smith 4-9 0-0 8; Sloane Sorrell 2-6 2-2 6; Magdala Johnson 1-2 3-3 5; Megan Spanarkel 0-2 0-0 0; Kelly Chergey 0-0 0-0 0; Libby Cullerot 0-1 0-0 0; Deborah LaValley 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 12-17 61.
BENTLEY (23-4) -- Kim Brennan 9-12 1-2 20; Shatasia Kearse 6-6 2-4 14; Lauren Battista 4-7 4-4 12; Courtney Finn 4-7 1-2 12; Katherine Goodwin 5-8 0-0 10; Jacqui Brugliera 4-7 0-0 8; Kelsey Roberson 2-4 0-0 5; Christiana Bakolas 1-2 0-0 2; Lauren Massie 0-1 0-0 0; Ashley Saia 0-0 0-0 0; Meghan Thomann 0-2 0-0 0; Caralyn Hart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-56 8-12 83.
Halftime: B 45-28; 3-point goals--SNH 3-11 (DeRoma 2-6; Duffy 1-3; Cullerot 0-1; LaValley 0-1), B 5-15 (Finn 3-6; Roberson 1-3; Brennan 1-2; Goodwin 0-1; Massie 0-1; Thomann 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--SNH 24 (Houghtaling 8), B 35 (Kearse 11). Assists--SNH 15 (Duffy, Houghtaling 4), Bentley 23 (Bakolas 6). Total fouls--SNH 12, B 15. Technical fouls--None.