NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./ Edgewood HS) put up a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double in her first career start and was one of seven Falcons to connect from three-point land as Bentley University, the eighth-ranked team in Division II preseason, overpowered Concordia College (N.Y.) 94-56 in season-opening women's basketball Friday night in the Merrimack Conference Challenge at Merrimack's Bert Hammel Court Friday night.
Meriggioli was one of five Falcons to score in doubles with the group also including senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) with 14, junior forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/ Holy Name HS) with 12, sophomore forward Marissa Fontaine (Franklin/Bishop Feehan HS) with 11 and junior guard Maddy Springfield (Jaffrey, N.H./Conant HS) with 10.
Meriggioli and Viapiano both had ten points in a first half that ended with the Falcons possessing a commanding 56-29 lead. The Falcons knocked down nine of 16 from three-point territory and also got it done at the defensive end with four blocks and five steals.
The opening stanza, which ended with a 29-19 lead, included a 14-1 burst that produced a 26-11 advantage with two minutes left. Seven of those were scored by Meriggioli.
In the second quarter, Bentley scored 18 unanswered points in a span of just over four minutes to extend the difference to 28, 49-21, with 4:44 still remaining before halftime. That explosion included six points by Viapiano and three-balls from Fontaine, McConnell and Meriggioli, her third in as many attempts in the half.
Bentley continued to pour it on in the third quarter, outscoring the Clippers 24-9 to take a dominating 80-38 lead into the final stanza. The Falcon lead peaked at 47, 85-38, in the opening minute of the fourth.
Bentley, which outshot the New Yorkers 48-32 percent overall, finished 14 of 26 from three-point land, coming within one of the school single game record. Rebounds favored the Falcons by a margin of 35, 61-26, and assists were 28-13, with senior guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./ South Windsor HS) leading the way with seven.
In addition to Meriggioli's ten boards, half of which were offensive, Bentley's rebound leaders were Springfiield with eight and freshman Kolleen Bouchard (Houlton, Maine/Houlton HS) with seven. Bouchard, in her collegiate debut, also had five points, two assists and two blocks in 17:36.
Senior guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) only scored seven points, but stuffed the stat sheet with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, two turnovers, four drawn fouls and a team-best +38.
Junior guard Nicole Nicholson (Staten Island, N.Y.) led Concordia with 12 points.
The season-opening Conference Challenge will resume Saturday with Bentley meeting Georgian Court at 7 pm.