WALTHAM, Mass. – Runs of 10-2, 12-0 and 17-0 produced a 39-8 lead with six minutes still to play in the opening half and Bentley University, the number one-ranked team in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II coaches' poll, went on to an 81-68 win over St. Michael's College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Just as was the case in Tuesday's 76-52 win over Merrimack College, a trio of 1,000-point scorers topped the scoring list for the undefeated Falcons (9-0, 6-0 NE-10). Grad student and All-Region guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/ Winthrop HS) scored 16 points, senior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames ) followed with 14 and senior All-Conference post Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) finished with 13.
The 10-2 flurry to start the game was ignited by lay-ups by Finn senior point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) in the first 24 seconds, with a Bakolas steal sandwiched in between. It also included a three-pointer from sophomore guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./ Souhegan HS) and a Brugliera inside basket.
Following a Purple Knight lay-up, the next 12 points went up on the Bentley side of the scoreboard. Battista converted a three-point play, Brugliera scored off an offensive rebound, Bakolas followed with a driving lay-up and freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) added the next five with two free throws and a three-pointer.
St. Michael's scored the next four points to get within 14, 22-8, but Bentley responded in impressive fashion, scoring 17 unanswered over a span of 5:30. Six different players chipped in with points during the run, which was capped by three-balls from the left win by Finn and junior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS).
The half ended with Bentley riding a 30-point bulge, 48-18, after outshooting the Knights 52-24 percent. Gemma topped the Falcons with nine first-half points and both Finn and Brugliera netted eight before the break.
Bentley never got it going after play resumed in the second half with the Falcons' only run of the final 20 minutes being four straight free throws in the final 66 seconds after St. Michael's whittled the lead down to ten, 76-66.
During the second half, St. Michael's (2-6, 1-4 NE-10) shot 65 percent from the field, limited the Falcons to 41 percent and forced 13 turnovers. Senior forward Alex Long (Waterford, Conn.) led the way with 17 points, seven boards and three assists in the second.
Finn finished 5-of-8 from the field with three triples and four rebounds, and Brugliera helped out with five rebounds and two blocks in addition to a season-high point total. The two exchanged places on Bentley's all-time scoring list with Finn now 18th with 1,182 points and Brugliera one place and one point behind her.
Battista, seventh all-time with 1,647 points, made five of nine shots, hit all five of her free throws and also provided five rebounds and four assists. Gemma was the fourth Falcon in reach doubles as she finished with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Long led all scorers and rebounders, finishing with 19 points and eight boards.
Overall, Bentley outshot St. Michael's 47-42 percent and had a 40-34 rebounding advantage. The Falcons had the edge in most statistical categories, with the exception of 21 turnovers, three more than the Knights.
Next up for Bentley is a Tuesday night game at Franklin Pierce University, the final conference game of 2013.