PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Senior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS) scored 18 points and All-Conference guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop HS), a grad student, added 14 points and a career-best nine assists as Bentley University, the number one-ranked team in Division II preseason, opened with an 81-68 win over 11th-ranked Holy Family University in non-conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at Campus Center Gymnasium.
Bentley, coming off a 30-2 season, seized control with a 20-3 blitz during a span of five second-half minutes. That produced a 75-57 advantage with five-and-a-half minutes to play and the Falcon lead eventually peaked at 20, 81-61 with just under three minutes to play, before the Tigers scored the game's final seven points.
A lay-up by senior All-Conference forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./Wachusett Reg. HS) and a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) after a steal got the run going. Battista followed with a lay-up and senior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) converted a three-point play to produce the first 10-point differential of the day, 64-54.
After the run was interrupted by three Tiger points, Bentley resumed its burst, scoring the next 11 with seven of those registered by Finn.
At the start, a pair of Battista baskets sandwiched around a Finn three-pointer staked coach Barbara Stevens' team to a quick 7-0 lead and the visitors maintained a slim lead throughout an opening half that ended with Bentley up three, 39-36. Holy Family was limited to 29 percent during the first 20 minutes but was able to stay within reach due to a 28-21 rebound advantage and 17 free throw attempts.
There were three ties and four lead changes in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the second before a lay-up from freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) put Bentley back in front for good, 51-49.
Battista, tenth on Bentley's all-time scoring list with 1,522 points, made nine of 15 shots in the game and also gave the Falcons five rebounds, three steals and two assists. Finn, in addition to the near double-double in points and assists, filled the stat sheet with six rebounds and three steals.
Also scoring in doubles were Bakolas, with 14 along with four assists, and Brugliera, with 11 (and five rebounds). Gemma led the team in rebounds, claiming seven in 16 minutes off the bench in her collegiate debut.
Bentley, which shot 53 percent in the second half, outshot the Tigers overall, 43-35 percent, and finished a plus-two on the boards, 41-39. The Falcons turned the ball over only 13 times and had the edge in a number of specialty stats (38-14 in the paint, 25-11 off turnovers, 15-9 second chance, 10-0 fast break).
Senior guard Maggie Serratelli (Bethlehem, Pa.) led Holy Family with 15 points.
Bentley's trip to the mid-Atlantic will continue with a 3 pm contest at Caldwell College Sunday afternoon.