MANCHESTER, N.H. – Grad student Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop HS) scored a team-best 16 points, senior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS) followed with 14 and the bench chipped in with 40 as Bentley University, the number one-ranked team in Division II, rolled to an 89-58 win over Saint Anselm College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Wednesday night at Stoutenburgh Gym.
It was the conference-opener for both teams with Bentley, the three-time defending Northeast-10 champion improving to 3-0 and Saint Anselm dropping its first in three games under first-year coach Julie Plant.
An early 10-0 run put the Falcons in front to stay at 15-6. Senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy) got it started with a three from the right wing, Battista followed with a put-back, Finn converted a three-point play and freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./ Fontbonne Academy) added a second-chance basket.
After the Hawks closed to within three at 20-17, the final 12:30 of the opening half belonged to Bentley. A 13-2 spurt over the next 3:40 made it a 33-19 contest and it grew into a 29-9 explosion that sent the two teams to the locker room separated by 23 points, 49-26.
Like the Falcons' earlier 10-0 run, a Crowell three ignited the 13-2 burst. Senior point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) added a pair from the charity stripe and Finn knocked down a three-ball from the left corner to produce the game's first double-digit lead, 28-17.
The second half began with seven straight Bentley points, including five by Battista, and the score stood at 56-26 with 16 minutes to play. The differential remained within four points of 30 either way the rest of the way.
Finn was the only Falcon to play more than 20 minutes and she achieved her 16 points, along with a team-best eight rebounds, in 24. Battista made six of nine shots and also provided six rebounds, Crowell's night included eight points, and Bakolas had eight assists in her return to her home state.
The bench contributions included 10 points by sophomore guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./ Souhegan HS) and nine from Gemma, who also had seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
Senior forward Briana Jones (White Plains, N.Y.) powered Saint Anselm with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Bentley outshot the Hawks 89-58 and dominated the boards, 50-31. The Falcons connected on five more threes (8-3), enjoyed a 44-16 advantage in points in the paint and were a plus-12 in points off turnovers.
Bentley will open its home schedule Saturday night at 7 pm against 16th-ranked Dowling College, the team that ended the Falcons' season last March in the NCAA Division II East Regional final.