Thursday, December 16, 2010

#24 Bentley Hosts C.W. Post Sunday in Search of 7th Straight Win and Stevens’ 800th

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Following its longest hiatus of the regular season, the Bentley University women’s basketball team will return to action Sunday afternoon, looking to extend its winning streak to seven and elevate coach Barbara Stevens into the 800-win club.
              
Bentley, idle since a 78-63 win over Stonehill College on Dec. 8, will look to achieve both of those when it hosts C.W. Post at the Dana Center, with tip-off slated for 2 pm. It’ll be the first-ever meeting between the two clubs, both of whom were deemed the preseason favorite in their respective conferences.
              
The 6-1 Bentley Falcons, who returned to the ESPN/USA Today Division II national rankings at number 24 this week, have strung together six straight wins, all against Northeast-10 opponents and all by at least 14 points.  C.W. Post will come into Waltham at 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the East Coast Conference, with four of the wins one-possession games and two of the losses to NE-10 foes (American International, New Haven).
              
Stevens, in her 25th season at Bentley and 34th year overall as a head coach, is a win away from becoming one of only a handful of women’s basketball coaches to amass 800 career victories. Pat Summitt (Tennessee), Jody Conradt (Texas), C. Vivian Stringer (Rutgers) and Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina) are the current members of that exclusive group, and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer is seeking her 800th tonight against DePaul. Stevens will enter the potential milestone game with records of 799-236 overall and 642-145 with the Falcons.
              
Bentley’s list of four double-figure scorers is split between two seniors and a pair of freshmen. The former group consists of forward Elise Caira (Wakefield/Arlington Catholic HS), the team-leader in scoring (13.0) and rebounds (9.7), and floor leader Kim Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS), a starter in 100 consecutive games and just seven points shy of becoming the tenth Falcon to tally 1400 career points. This year, she’s averaging 10.6 points and 4.6 assists.
              
Newcomers have played a significant role in Bentley’s best start in six years, with first-year players accounting for 37 percent of the scoring and 39 percent of the rebounds. Freshmen forwards Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) and Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS), who have combined for the last three NE-10 Rookie of the Week awards, are each scoring in double figures, at 11.7 and 10.9, respectively.
              
Caira, Brennan and Battista have been joined in the starting lineup for each of the first seven games by junior guard Katherine Goodwin (Goffstown, N.H./Governors Academy) and sophomore Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS). Goodwin owns a 9.3 scoring average and Finn, who missed last year with a knee, is just over five points a game.
              
Bench production has come from a number of players, including Brugliera and junior guard Meghan Thomann (Andover/Andover HS), who is number one in Division II this week in three-point accuracy (16-25, .640).
              
Senior guard Janea Aiken, last year’s ECC Player of the Year, is off to an outstanding start for C.W. Post. She’s putting up nearly 20 points a game, accounting for roughly a third of the Pioneers’ scoring.
              
Next on the scoring list for C.W. Post are junior guard Felicia Joyner and six-foot-one sophomore Nicolette Marcinek, at 9.1 and 8.5 points a game.
              
After Sunday’s meeting with the Pioneers and a week-long break for Christmas, Bentley will be looking at three in a row on the road, beginning with games against Bridgeport and Dowling Dec. 29-30 in the Southern New Hampshire Holiday Classic.

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