WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./Edgewood HS) scored 13 of her game-high 15 points in the second half and senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) became the 36th 1,000-point scorer in program history as Bentley University stayed unbeaten with a 72-65 win over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Tuesday evening at the Dana Center.
Bentley, ranked fifth in Division II by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and second by D2SIDA, improved to 11-0 overall and 7-0 in the Northeast-10. The Falcons lead the conference's Northeast Division by two games over Stonehill, Saint Anselm and Assumption. Merrimack fell to 6-5 overall and 2-5 NE10.
Down one with four minutes left in the third quarter, Bentley regained control with a run of 11 unanswered to finish the stanza. Meriggioli put the Falcons in front to stay with a three from the right corner and junior post Monica Viapiano (Holden/Wachusett Reg. HS) scored the next six. She made a jumper from just inside the foul stripe, two free throws and a lay-up. Freshman guard Kolleen Bouchard (Houlton, Maine/Houlton HS) finished the quarter's scoring, making it 61-51.
Bentley's lead hit 12, 63-51, about a minute into the fourth on a short jumper by Viapiano. It peaked at 13 a couple minutes later before a medical emergency in the stands necessitated a lengthy delay.
Once play resumed, the Warriors strung together a 10-2 run to draw within five, 67-62 with 2:32 left. Six of the ten were scored by senior guard Lindsay Werner (Groton), who led Merrimack with 14 points.
Viapiano blocked a three in a final minute that potentially could have made it a two-point game, and the Falcons secured the outcome by hitting five of six free throws in the final 24.3 seconds. Senior forward/guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) made the first two and Meriggioli went three-for-four.
Bentley started fast with a 14-2 run in the opening four minutes. That early surge was capped by a lay-up from Lux that lifted her over 1,000.
After Merrimack ran off eight straight to get within four, Bentley closed the quarter with an 8-2 run to go up ten, 24-14.
All but one of that lead was gone by halftime with the Falcons outscored 19-10 in the second. The third quarter included four ties and five lead changes, the last coming on Meriggioli's go-ahead three.
Meriggioli was followed in the scoring column by Lux and Viapiano, each with 14. Bouchard added ten off the bench and Lewis had nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Both teams shot 41 percent from the field and Merrimack held an 8-5 advantage in threes. The Falcons held the free throw edge (13-9 with both teams missing two), the rebounding advantage (41-31) and a 24-18 lead in points off turnovers.
Bentley will be back at home Sunday for a 1:00 match-up with Molloy College.