The shots weren't falling, but the Bentley men's basketball team didn't stop working. The Falcons attacked the boards, defended with passion and took care of the ball.
Bentley scored 25 points on second-chance baskets and committed just seven turnovers.
The result? The Falcons pulled away for their 31st straight victory, a workmanlike 60-45 victory over the University of Bridgeport in the NCAA Division 2 Northeast Regional semifinals Sunday night in front of a crowd of 1,102 at the Dana Center.
Now, unbeaten Bentley (31-0) is just one win away from the program's first-ever trip to the Division 2 Elite Eight, a short drive down the Pike in Springfield.
Standing in the Falcons' path in Tuesday night's regional final, though, is Northeast-10 Conference rival Bryant. Bentley already owns three wins over Bryant this season, including an 85-74 win in last week's conference semifinals.
On a night in which the five Bentley seniors notched their 100th career victory, sophomore sixth man Lew Finnegan (8-of-13 shooting) led the Falcons with a game-high 22 points in 23 minutes, including 13 in an explosive second half, and junior point guard Yusuf Abdul-Ali contributed 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Senior post Jeff Holmes added 10 points and six rebounds.
"We continue to talk about emotional toughness, and just keeping playing," said Bentley coach Jay Lawson of his team's early shooting struggles. "Some of our top shooters we're getting good looks, all of them were getting good looks from the perimeter.
"If we start making those shots and defend like we did tonight, we're going to be in pretty good shape no matter who we play."
-- Craig Larson
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