All-American Courtney Finn and Bentley University take the title
There she was on national television hitting every free throw, converting her drives, nailing three pointers, hauling down rebounds, and playing tenacious defense.
Courtney Finn began the Elite Eight for Bentley University with a sensational 30-point-10 rebound performance and ended it with a 20-point gem as the Lady Falcons won the school’s first national championship, beating West Texas A & M, 73-65, in the title game Friday night in Erie, Pennsylvania.
From the free throw line, Finn was as clutch as can be, swishing 30 of 33 shots in the tournament, including a perfect 12-for-12 from the line in the tense drama that was the championship game.
Finn was named to the All-Tournament team, coming on the heels of two other major honors, national All-American for her season and Most Outstanding Player in the Regionals.
How does it feel to be a national champion with a perfect 35-0 record?
“It’s pretty surreal. It’s a great feeling that hasn’t fully set in yet,” said Finn. “But it’s absolutely amazing.”
Finn felt from the beginning that the Bentley 2013-14 team could accomplish something special.
“I think from the beginning of the year, we weren’t afraid to talk about the national championship and what it would take to get there, so it was a goal from the start for us.”
Finn said Bentley’s win over Bloomfield in the first round of the NCAA Tournament was a good launching point for the postseason run. “They were a good test for us at home in the NCAA Regionals because they were a good defensive team,” said Finn.
Finn, a graduate student who missed her freshman year due to an injury, and the other seniors accounted for more than 100 victories in their careers.
She downplayed her superb contributions to the national championship campaign. “I don’t even look at what I did. I look at what this team did. The special part about us was that we just didn’t have one person that needed to carry that us. We had 15 of us that could do it, especially the seven seniors. On any given night, someone would step up and take over.”
Finn and teammate Lauren Battista, a senior from Oliver Ames High School in Easton, were named All-Americans. Battista was also the National Player of the Year while coach Barbara Steven was the National Coach of the Year.
“It’s a great honor to be an All-American and Lauren is a terrific player,” said Finn. “She deserves all the honors that she has received this year. She’s been a great teammate.”
Looking back, Finn said Bentley was the perfect choice for academically and athletically.
“Going to Bentley was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I’m so honored to play for this team and play for coach Stevens. She’s a great coach. She deserves this national championship, the one thing to top off her amazing career as a coach. I’m glad we were able to bring it to her.”
Coach Stevens, regarded as one of the true legends in the game of women’s basketball, praised Finn for her career achievements.
“Courtney Finn’s entire career at Bentley has been leading up to the moment when we won the Division 2 National Championship. Injured as a freshman and unable to compete that year, she worked diligently to come back from her injury and become a key contributor to the team.
With every year, Courtney became stronger, more focused and more determined,” continued Stevens. There is not a tougher competitor on our team. It was that determination, that will to win, that came through in the biggest game of her career. Courtney Finn is a winner – plain and simple.”
Finn, the daughter of Winthrop schoolteacher Marie and former Winthrop Superintendent of Schools Peter Finn, thanked the people of Winthrop for supporting her career. She is the high school’s all-time leading scorer.
“I want to thank everyone in Winthrop who helped me throughout the years, especially my high school teammates like my sister, Kristen, Rina Mallios, Meri Soper, Nicole Giaquinto, Kelley Mahoney, Mr. [Peter] Grimes, who is a great coach, and Mr. [Nagle], who was my coach in my senior year All the support I’ve received from Winthrop the past few days has been great.”