WALTHAM, Mass. – Last weekend, the Bentley University women's basketball team was in Philadelphia, where they split the first two contests of the season.
Coach Barbara Stevens' team is back on the road this weekend for a pair of games in Florida, the Falcons' first trip to the Sunshine State since 2008. Bentley will be in Lakeland on Saturday for a 5:30 encounter with Florida Southern and in Fort Lauderdale Monday to take on Nova Southeastern University, also a 5:30 start.
Like Bentley, both Florida opponents were in the NCAA Division II tournament last March and received preseason recognition this time around. The two clubs actually met in the South Regional final with Nova advancing from the seventh seed to the Elite Eight and the Mocs finishing an impressive 30-4.
Florida Southern is off to a 2-1 start after a midweek win over in-state rival Flagler and Nova is winless following losses to Union University, a 2019 NCAA tourney team, and perennial NCAA Division II power Delta State.
During the opening weekend, Bentley bounced back from a game one loss to nationally-ranked USciences to prevail over Goldey-Beacom, 67-55.
Sophomore guard and former America East Rookie of the Year Kari Brekke (Appleton, Wisc./ Appleton North HS) and senior center Monica Viapiano (Holden/Wachusett Reg. HS) accounted for nearly half of Bentley's scoring during the opening weekend. Brekke, who had a career-best 22 in the win, averaged 13 points and shot an even .500. Viapiano had a double-double against USciences (15 points, 10 rebounds) and made 55 percent of her shots during the two games.
Next on the scoring list was junior guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wisc./Edgewood HS), who averaged 9.5 points and eight rebounds.
Junior guard and Florida Atlantic transfer is off to a solid start for Florida Southern as she's come off the bench to shot 52 percent overall and make 8 of 13 three-pointers. Her 12.0 scoring average is a team best and she also delivers 3.3 assists a game.
Sophomore guard Bekki Kalaydjiev and six-one-senior Katerina Pazzaglia-Khomensko are also shooting over .500 from the field and produce 10.3 and 9.7 points a game, respectively.
Nova Southeastern features six-foot-two senior Jordan Tully, who is averaging 23 points with a .606 field goal percentage during the early going. She opened with 21 points against Union and followed by making 12 of 15 for 25 points against Delta State. Last year, the Stetson transfer averaged 11.2 points in 23 games and posted a .599 shooting mark.
Most of the rest of the team didn't shoot well last weekend, combining to make 27 of 76 shots.
After the two games down south, Bentley will return home for two games, beginning Saturday against Queens College (N.Y.). The starting time for that one has been changed to 12:30 pm.