MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior guard and co-captain Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./ South Windsor HS) scored a career-high 19 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, and came up with five steals as Bentley University elevated its record to a perfect 10-0 with a 60-51 win over previously once-beaten Saint Anselm College Saturday afternoon at Stoutenburgh Gym.
Bentley, ranked fifth in the WBCA Division II coaches' poll and third in the D2SIDA media poll, improved to 6-0 in the conference and now leads the NE10 Northeast Division by two games in the loss column. It's the seventh time in Barbara Stevens' 33 years at the helm that her Falcons have started 10-0 or better.
Despite shooting only 24 percent and being held scoreless after a McConnell lay-up with 5:30 left in the second made it a 22-13 lead, Bentley went into the locker room at the half with on top by one, 22-21. McConnell, with six of the Falcons' eight second-quarter points, was the game-high scorer at the half with eight points.
Bentley started both quarters strong, jumping out to an 11-2 lead to start the game and scoring the first six of the second to go up 20-11.
After four lead changes in the first three minutes of the third, Bentley embarked on an 11-2 run to open a 39-30 advantage. Freshman guard Kolleen Bouchard (Houlton, Maine/Houlton HS) scored five, all at the free throw line, during that stretch and junior forward Monica Viapiano (Holden, Mass./Wachusett Reg. HS) had a pair of inside baskets.
Early in the fourth, Bentley ran off six straight, including two Viapiano baskets, to make it a 12-point game, 49-37, with seven minutes left. Saint Anselm countered with seven unanswered, closing to within five at 49-44 with 4:52 remaining.
With the difference still five, Bentley junior guard Julia Ford (Charlton, Mass./Noble and Greenough) stepped in to draw a charge with 56.8 seconds left. About a second later, Bouchard hit one of two at the line to make it a six-point game.
McConnell sealed the win by sinking three of four at the line in the final 36 seconds.
McConnell, the smallest player on the court at 5-5, finished the afternoon seven of 13 from the floor and five of seven on free throws. Defensively, in addition to matching her career-high in steals, she helped limit sophomore guard Grace Guachione (Pittsfield, Mass.) to only three of 20 shooting.
The other two double-figure scorers for Bentley were Viapiano and senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy), who helped Bentley outscored the Hawks in the paint 40-24. Viapiano provided 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks off the bench and Lux followed with 11 points and six boards.
Junior forward Sara Messler (Durham, N.H.) and senior wing Michaela Martin (Haverhill, Mass.) each had 13 points to lead Saint Anselm. Six-foot-four junior Shannon Ryan (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) had six blocks and nine rebounds, but was limited to four points, 15 below her norm, on two-of-nine shooting.
Seven-for-12 shooting in the fourth quarter lifted the Falcons' final shooting accuracy to .333, including just two-of-11 from three-point land. Saint Anselm finished at just .284, including four of 16 from deep.
Saint Anselm won the rebounding battle, 52-43, but the Falcons made five more free throws, 14-9 and finished with eight fewer turnovers (13-21).
Bentley, after traveling for eight of the first ten games, will begin a five-game home stand Tuesday against Merrimack (6 pm).