WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior forward Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) came off the bench to provide 21 points, tying her career-best, and a season-best 11 rebounds as Bentley University contained Southern Connecticut State, 64-51, in the semifinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Championships Thursday night at the Moore Field House.
The win, Bentley's sixth straight, propelled coach Barbara Stevens' program into the NE10 championship game for seventh time in eight years and the 28th time overall. The Falcons, 26-3 overall and ranked 12th in the WBCA Division II national coaches poll, will look for their 20th NE10 championship Sunday when they play a 1 pm game at 26-2 and number 13 Stonehill College.
After the two teams traded a pair of three-pointers in the first three minutes, Bentley embarked on an 11-3 run to take a lead it would never give back. Lewis, whose previous 21-point game occurred against Southern in the 2016 NE10 semis, scored six of the 11 with a pair of lay-ups and a 17-foot jumper.
Bentley took a 32-20 lead into the halftime break after closing the second quarter with six straight points and limiting the Owls (18-9) to only two free throws in the final 6:10. The closing run included a lay-up from senior guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) and four points from first-team All-Northeast-10 junior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy).
Lewis kept Bentley in the lead throughout the third as she scored the Falcons' first ten points and a total of 12 in the quarter. Southern, on the strength of four triples in the quarter, drew within three, 42-39, before the Falcons closed the quarter with a 6-1 spurt. Senior guard Trevena Bennett (Union, N.J./Gill St. Bernard School) scored the first four on free throws and Lewis had her fifth field goal of the third.
Bentley's 48-40 lead heading into the fourth shrunk to four in the first three minutes, 51-47. The Falcon D took over from there, giving up only four points the rest of the way, as the offense gradually extended the lead to a game-high 13. The closing 13-4 burst included five points from senior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) and three apiece from Lux and Smith.
Lewis, whose 12 points in the third matched her season-high (set in Sunday's NE10 quarters) made 9 of 17 shots, including three from downtown, and collected four of her 11 boards at the offensive end.
Green and Lux followed with 11 points, Bennett chipped in with nine off the bench, and Smith provided eight points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Senior guard Africa Williams (New York, N.Y.) led Southern with 15 points, most coming via four baskets from outside the three-point line.
Bentley limited the Owls to just 28.8 percent shooting, including only seven of 27 inside the three-point line. The Falcons matched Southern's eight three-balls and shot 38 percent overall. Turnovers were even at 16 and Bentley controlled the boards, 43-33 overall and 17-10 overall.
Bentley and Stonehill split during the regular season with each winning on its home court, the Falcons 84-73 on Nov. 15 and the Skyhawks 77-66 on Jan. 31.