In the annals of Saint Anselm College women’s basketball history, this one ranks right up there.
The Hawks on Friday stunned perennial championship contender Bentley University 59-40 in an NCAA Division II East Regional contest in Philadelphia. Saint Anselm advanced to play another Northeast-10 Conference member, Stonehill College, today at 5 p.m. in Philadelphia. Sixth-seeded Stonehill upset No. 3 Jefferson 86-77 in another first-round game on Friday.
On Friday, the Hawks employed a tough defense that limited the Falcons, who were seeded second in the regional, to two points in the second quarter and eight in the first half. Saint Anselm, seeded No. 7, led 27-8 at the half and its lead peaked at 23 points several times in the second half.
For the game, Bentley (28-4) shot 29.6 percent from the field, including 22.7 percent from 3-point land. The Hawks shot 43.4 percent from the field, 35.3 from 3-point range.
Bentley has won 14 NCAA regional championships and captured the national title in 2014. The Falcons won all three of the teams’ earlier meetings this season.
Senior Peyton Steinman led Saint Anselm (20-9) with 21 points and seven rebounds. Junior Shannon Ryan had 10 points, five rebounds and four blocks.
The NCAA win was the Hawks’ first since 1999 when they beat Franklin Pierce in Waltham, Mass. Saint Anselm has reached the regional final three times, losing twice to Bentley and, most recently, to Stonehill in 1995. The Hawks have never won it.