WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) scored 18 points, including the first six of the game, and junior All-Conference forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) followed with 15 points and 11 rebounds, as Bentley University led throughout en route to an 80-58 victory over Franklin Pierce University in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Tuesday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, ranked second in the USA Today Sports/ESPN/WBCA Division II coaches' poll for the third consecutive week, remained undefeated (6-0, 5-0 NE-10) while extending its winning streak against East Region opposition to 19 games. Franklin Pierce finished the night at 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the conference.
With Battista leading the way, Bentley jumped out to an 8-0 lead as the visiting Ravens came up empty on their first seven possessions (0 for 5, two turnovers). Franklin Pierce managed to pull within four at 13-9, but that would be as close as the game would be over the final 37 minutes.
After seeing its lead reduced to four, Bentley regained control with a 12-5 run producing an 11-point lead at 25-14. Battista and Brugliera each had four of the 11, and helped the Falcons dominate the boards early, 14-4, setting a trend that would continue most of the game.
Senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) and freshman guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) each connected twice from downtown during a 16-2 burst that enabled Bentley to more double the Ravens, 46-22 with 2:24 left in the half.
After facing a 50-29 deficit at the break, Franklin Pierce came out strong in the second half, using an 11-4 run to draw within 14, 54-40, with 15 minutes to play.
The Ravens would come no closer as the Falcons countered by scoring the next eight, restoring the lead to 22, 62-40 with 12:37 left. White ignited that burst with the third of her four trifectas, and Brugliera sank three from the line.
Bentley's lead eventually peaked at 32 a couple times, the first coming with 1:54 left on a pair of White free throws.
Battista, who moved from 26th to 23rd on Bentley's all-time scoring list with 1,109 points, sank eight of ten shots overall and also delivered three assists. Brugliera's night including an eight-of-nine effort from the line, and White sank four of five three-pointers en route to a career-best 14 points off the bench.
Bentley also received nine points from junior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy) and eight from Finn, with both players also grabbing seven rebounds. Junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) only scored four points, but helped out with seven assists, two steals and four rebounds.
Seniors Tiffany Johnson (St. Albans, Vt.) and Amanda Saab (Windham, N.H.) each scored 10 for Franklin Pierce, which saw its leading scorer for the season, freshman forward Kara Charette (Fairhaven), held to only two points, 13.3 below her norm.
Bentley, which shot 63 percent overall and made six of ten from three in the first half, tailed off in the second, but still finished at 46 percent with eight three-balls. The Falcons grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, leading to a 13-3 advantage in second chance points, en route to a plus-15 on the boards (45-30). The Falcons also had the edge at the line, attempting 11 more (30-19) and making seven more (18-11).
Bentley will be back at home on Saturday, taking on undefeated Stonehill College at 1:30 pm.