WALTHAM — There are hot streaks, and then there is the performance level of Bentley University guard Courtney Finn over the past couple of months.
A graduate student from Winthrop who was a preseason All-America pick, Finn paces the top-ranked Division 2 women’s basketball team in the country in minutes (30.0 per game) and rebounding (7.6 ppg) and is second in scoring (15.9 ppg).
“Not only can she play minutes, but she can play effective minutes,” said Bentley coach Barbara Stevens, whose Falcons entered Tuesday’s matchup against visiting Merrimack at 21-0.
“She has consistency on the court, is someone you can count on, and is able to make good things happen.”
In a matchup against host American International Jan. 18, the smooth southpaw tri-captain set a school record for 3-pointers, draining eight of nine attempts en route to a career-high 25 points in an 84-46 win.
That performance came just three days after Finn’s fourth double-double of the season, a 13-point, 13-rebound effort in a 77-66 victory over Adelphi.
On Jan. 3, in the team’s first game after holiday break, the 5-foot-9 Finn displayed a sign of things to come, registering 16 points and 12 rebounds during her team’s 72-42 blowout of Bridgeport. She is one of four players in program history with at least 1,000 points (1,372), 500 rebounds (707), and 100 3-pointers (174).
Her acumen on the court manifests itself in a host of different ways, and that diverse skill set was displayed at the free-throw line last Thursday at Assumption. She hit all 10 of her free throws, accounting for more than half of her 18 points on the night in an 89-70 win.
Where is this consistency coming from?
“She tends to get herself open, and players just get in that zone sometimes,” Stevens said.
“The basket will look bigger than it really is.”
Finn, however, who is known for a methodical approach in both games and practice, downplayed her individual efforts.
“I’ve set goals for myself, and I’m just trying to meet them,” said Finn, who graduated last May with a bachelor’s degree in management and now is pursuing a master’s in business administration at Bentley.
“I know that teams aren’t going to fold. It’s important to look at it as a zero-zero score at the start of every second half.”
The most important goal of Finn’s career was set shortly after her record-setting career at Winthrop High (1,747 points, the most in school history, and a four-time league all-star).
Prior to her freshman season at Bentley, Finn tore an anterior cruciate ligament, sidelining her for the entire year.
But deep into Finn’s first collegiate season (2010-11), it was clear that the injury was an irrelevant side note. She scored in double figures in seven of the team’s last 10 games of the year, and finished sixth in the Northeast-10 in 3-point accuracy (.407).
“I was able to get past it,” Finn said of the injury.
“Being hurt, I was able to watch and learn a lot. I got through that first season coming back, and now I think having this fifth year is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.”
Her teammates are certainly thankful.
Lauren Battista, a senior tri-captain who recently became the program’s all-time leading scorer (surpassing Billerica native Kelly Barker), explained how she and Finn help each other on the court.
“I like to drive, then shoot,” Battista said. “But when I draw attention away from Courtney, I know that she’s an automatic 3-pointer out there. We all work well together. We make it difficult to defend everyone.”
Tri-captain Christiana Bakolas knows that she is in an enviable position.
“I think I’m the luckiest point guard in America,” she said.
“I get to play with Lauren and Courtney, and we have a lot of unselfish players. Opponents are constantly looking out to see where Courtney is. She requires a lot of attention, and opens up space.”
Just four regular-season games remain for the Falcons, and Stevens thinks that Finn and her fellow seniors have the right mindset as they aim for an extended postseason run.
“We were in this same position last year,” said Stevens of a Falcon club that was denied a trip to the Elite Eight by Dowling in the East Regional final, 53-51.
“But I think there’s more of a sense of calm than last year. There’s a great sense of confidence.”Jeff Powalisz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.