WALTHAM, Mass. – A regular season that has included a pair of 12-game win steaks and a 25-2 record to date will draw to a close Tuesday night when the Bentley University women's basketball team hosts Franklin Pierce University at the Dana Center. The 5:30 pm game will be webcast over the NE10 NOW Digital Network.
Bentley, number 14 in last week's WBCA Division II coaches poll, is the number one seed out of the Northeast Division for the upcoming Northeast-10 Championships and will host a quarterfinal game Sunday afternoon. The opponent will not be known until Friday night when the fourth seed in the Southwest (New Haven or American International) takes on the fifth seed in the Northeast (Merrimack or Southern New Hampshire) in a first-round game.
Bentley opened the season with 12 straight wins and will carry another 12-game winning streak into Tuesday after holding the NE10's highest scoring team, Merrimack, to a season-low 44 points in a 23-point road victory Saturday.
Against the Warriors, senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) and sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./Edgewood HS) both had double-doubles, and junior guard Maddy Springfield (Jaffrey, N.H./Conant HS) had a career-high 11 rebounds as Bentley dominated the boards, 60-32. Coach Barbara Stevens, a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, also received 14 points from senior guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) and 12 from junior forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS).
Lux, after the 16-point, 10-rebound effort, leads the Falcons with averages of 11.6 points and seven boards. The fifth-leading rebounder in program history (902) has collected 72 at the offensive end this season, ranking seventh in the NE10.
Meriggioli is a close second in both categories, averaging 11.4 points and 6.9 rebounds. She's turned in back-to-back contests with 15 rebounds.
Bentley is three points Viapiano points away from having five double-digit scorers. Senior guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) provides 11 a game, Lewis is right behind at 10.8 and Viapiano's average is 9.9.
During the current win streak, Stevens' squad has limited the opponents to 55.6 points and shooting percentages of .349 overall and .275 from three. Merrimack shot only .273, a season-low for a Falcon opponent.
Franklin Pierce will come into the Dana and its season finale with records of 4-21 overall and 2-18 NE10 after dropping its last seven by an average of 13.9 points. The Ravens are last in the conference in both offense (58.8) and defense (69.9), and are shooting only .382 for the year.
Sophomore guard Sophia Hopkins leads the team in scoring (13.0) and free throw percentage (.877), and six-foot-two freshman Izzy Lipinski is having a productive rookie season. She averages 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds, and also has 39 steals and 24 blocks.
In the first meeting of the two teams this season, Meriggioli scored 18 points and McConnell came up with five steals as the Falcons prevailed 80-56.