LOWELL, Mass. – Senior All-Conference guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) scored 17 points, junior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) posted a double-double and junior All-Conference forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) chipped in with 12 second-half points as Bentley University got by UMass-Lowell , 76-68, in Northeast-10 women's basketball Wednesday night at Costello Gym.
It was the NE-10 opener for the two-time defending conference champion Falcons, who are ranked second nationally in Division II. UMass-Lowell dropped to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
A run of 12 unanswered points midway through the second half broke the game's tenth tie, 48-48, and put Bentley in front to stay. Five different players contributed points during the spurt, with Battista the only one to have two baskets.
A lay-up by Finn, off an inbound pass from junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./ Central HS), put the Falcons in front for good. It stayed a two-point game for over two minutes until junior forward Tyler Parker Kimball (New Britain, Conn./New Britain HS) made a lay-up for the Falcons.
The run continued with a drive to the basket by senior guard Kelsey Roberson (Arlington/ Arlington Catholic HS), two Battista lay-ups and a Kimball put-back. Kimball, a transfer from Roxbury Community College, was instrumental in the run with four rebounds, a steal and an assist in a span of a little more than three minutes.
UMass-Lowell battled back and cut the Falcon lead to four twice, the second coming when senior guard Bianca Simmons (Middletown, Conn.), the game's high scorer with 27 points, converted a four-point play after getting fouled while draining a three with 59.2 seconds left.
Bakolas was fouled on the inbound play and she made both from the stripe to return the lead to six. Bentley locked it up by hitting four more free throws the rest of the way, including three of four by Battista.
Bentley survived a 26-percent shooting and eight missed free throws to take a two-point lead into the locker room, 30-28. UMass-Lowell , which was whistled for 16 fouls during the first 20 minutes (resulting in 19 free throw attempts), also struggled at the offensive end, with 38 percent shooting and 19 turnovers.
The two teams were separated by more than three points only once in the first half, that coming after a three-pointer by Finn at 15:43 that made it an early 9-4 Falcon lead.
Finn came within one rebound of a double-double and was responsible for three of the Falcons' five three-pointers. Battista finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, and Brugliera's 12-point night included eight of ten from the line. Junior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy) provided eight points and nine points off the bench, and Kimball pitched in with nine rebounds, six points, two steals and a block in only 11 minutes of play.
Simmons, in addition to 27 points, had nine rebounds for the River Hawks who shot just about the same from three (12 of 31) as they did from two (12 of 30).
Bentley, which shot only 35 percent for the game, dominated the boards in the second half and finished with a 54-42 edge overall, including 22 offensive that led to a 16-4 margin in second-chance points.
Bentley's next game is at home next Tuesday against Merrimack.