WALTHAM, Mass. – When the Bentley University women's basketball team hosts the Stonehill College Skyhawks Tuesday night at the Dana Center in its first Northeast-10 Conference contest of the new season, the two longtime foes will be meeting for the 111th time. Tip-off is set for 5:30 pm and the game can be viewed on the NE10 Digital Network.
Bentley, in the midst of a difficult opening schedule, will bring a 3-2 record into the game after Saturday's wire-to-wire 89-65 win over Queens College (N.Y.) in the home opener.
Stonehill is off to a 4-1 start, including 74-66 over St. Michael's Saturday in its conference opener. The Skyhawks' only loss was 51-38 Nov. 16 to Molloy, who the Falcons will see on Saturday in the start of four straight away from the Dana.
Bentley head coach Barbara Stevens saw five of her players score in doubles on Saturday as she recorded her 1,042nd career victory. Topping the list, with a season-high 23, was junior guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wisc./Edgwood HS). She made eight of 11 shots overall, three of four triples and all four of her free throws.
The 8-of-11 shooting was matched by junior center Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS), who posted her second double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Ella Thompson (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS) made her first career start and responded with 17 points, four assists and two steals.
Viapiano and sophomore guard Kari Brekke (Appleton, Wisc./Appleton North HS) are the team's top scorers for the season, averaging 13.6 and 12 points, respectively. Viapiano is among the NE10 leaders in field goal percentage at .612 and is Bentley's leading rebounder at 6.2. Brekke has knocked down nine three-pointers and made the same number of steals.
Meriggioli's effort on Saturday boosted her scoring average to 10.4 as she moved closer to last year's 11.3 when she was an honorable mention All-Conference honoree. Senior guard Maddy Springfield (Jaffrey, N.H./Conant HS) provides nine a game off the bench and Thompson is up to an even eight points per contest.
Stonehill has won four of its first five, including a four-point win over nationally-ranked USciences, despite Kayla Raymond, last year's NE10 Rookie of the Year, having yet to play. Last year, she produced about 16 points and six rebounds a game.
Despite her absence, Stonehill has three players averaging in doubles, with senior guard Grace Carter at the top of the list at 16.2. She's been shooting the lights out, making 19 of 43 three-pointers and all 14 of her free throws.
Sophomore guard Isabella Santoro and senior forward Gabrielle follow with both over 11 a game. Senior forward Morgan O'Brien had 13 points in 19 minutes in the opener against Daemen but hasn't played since.
Bentley leads the all-time series 72-38 after prevailing in nine of the last ten. The Falcons swept the series last year, winning 70-54 on the road and 77-59 at the Dana Center. Stonehill will be looking to come out of the Dana Center with a win for the first time in five years.
This coming weekend, Bentley will be in New York to take on 3-2 Molloy Saturday and undefeated St. Thomas Aquinas on Sunday.