WALTHAM, Mass. – A 10-0 run to start the game and 27 consecutive points to open the second half was more than enough as Bentley University, the only remaining unbeaten in Division II women's basketball, rolled to a 77-51 victory over Le Moyne College in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Championships Sunday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Senior All-America and NE-10 Player of the Year Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) led a balanced attack for the 27-0 and three-time defending champion Falcons, filling the stat sheet with 13 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block.
The win propels the season-long number one in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II coaches' poll into Thursday's semifinals, with the Falcons, the top seed in the Northeast Division, hosting Assumption College, the third seed out of the Northeast, at 7 pm. The Greyhounds advanced with a 61-58 win at the University of New Haven.
All five starters scored in the first 4:13 for Bentley, producing a quick 10-0 start for the home team. Included during that run were a three-pointer from the right corner by Battista and a put-back from senior All-Conference forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS).
After a pair of baskets got Le Moyne on the board, Battista and All-Region grad student Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) each scored four as Bentley used eight unanswered to make it an 18-4 game after eight-and-half minutes.
The first half differential peaked at 27-10 when Battista hit a jumper in the paint with 6:31 to play, but the Dolphins finished strong to get within 11 at the break, 32-21. The lead actually shrunk to eight before Bentley freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) completed the first-half scoring with a top-of-the-key three with 54 seconds left.
Before Le Moyne would score again, the Falcon advantage had ballooned to 38, 59-21, just before the midpoint of the second half. During that lengthy dry spell, the Dolphins missed 12 straight from the field, misfired on four free throws and turned it over four times.
Brugliera and senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy) combined for the first 14 second-half points. Brugliera had eight of 14 and Crowell had six, scoring on a three-point play on a second-chance opportunity and knocking down a triple from the right side.
Le Moyne ended a scoreless drought of more than 11 minutes when junior Emily Greer (Corry, Pa.) connected from the left corner with 10:08 remaining.
Brugliera and Gemma joined Battista in double figures, finishing with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Like Battista, Brugliera missed a double-double by just one rebound.
Bentley also received eight points from Crowell, seven from grad student Crystal Guarin (Aliso Viejo, Calif./Troy HS) and six apiece from Finn and senior forward Tyler Parker Kimball (New Britain, Conn./New Britain HS). Senior point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) added six rebounds, five assists, five points and two steals.
Greer, with 14 points, was the top scorer for Le Moyne, which finishes its season at 15-13.
Bentley, which entered the game number one in Division II in both scoring margin and rebound margin, outshot the Dolphins 48-37 percent, finished with a 19-9 edge in free throws and dominated the boards, 45-22.
Bentley and Assumption met twice during the regular season with the Falcons prevailing 89-68 at home and 89-70 out in Worcester.
In the other semifinal, Adelphi University will host Stonehill College.