COLCHESTER, Vt. – Sophomore guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) came off the bench to drop in a career-best 11 points and the nation's second-ranked Division II team scored 32 points off turnovers as Bentley University took care of St. Michael's College, 54-42, in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Wednesday night at the Ross Sports Center.
Mattice's 11 points was matched by junior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./ Wachusett Reg. HS), who also had eight rebounds, and the Falcons also received 10 points and four boards from All-America junior forward Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS).
Bentley, which had three separate runs of at least 10 unanswered points, improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the NE-10 while recording its 17th consecutive win against East Region opposition. St. Michael's dropped its fourth in a row after an opening day win.
Bentley took a lead of a dozen, 31-19, into the halftime locker room after outscoring the Purple Knights 15-2 over the final eight minutes of the first. Twelve of the 15 came off turnovers or on second-chance opportunities and the run included a pair of three-pointers from Mattice, who began her college career at Maine.
With the Falcons down one (17-16) following a three-ball from junior guard Cara Deroy (Hamden, Conn.), junior forward Tyler Parker Kimball (New Britain, Conn./New Britain HS) got things started with a second-chance lay-up. Senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) followed with a lay-up, after a steal from freshman guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS), and Mattice buried threes on Bentley's next two possessions, both of which followed SMC turns.
Scoring was at a premium for both teams over the final five minutes of the half with senior Nicole Adach (Schenectady, N.Y.) hitting a lay-up with 3:23 to play for the Knights' only points of the final nine minutes, and Brugliera netting the final five points of the half.
That 5-0 burst grew into an 11-0 run when Bentley scored the first six points after play resumed, all coming off Purple Knight turns. Junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) came up with steals that led to baskets by Finn and Battista, and after a Battista steal, Brugliera made it 37-19.
A 14-2 run midway through the second half produced Bentley's biggest lead of the night, 54-29 with 5:57 left, and as it turned out, the team's final points as SMC tallied the game's final 13 to make the final score respectable. During that Falcon run, seven different players scored for the visitors.
The Falcons came up with 18 steals, its highest total in nearly ten years, with Bakolas, junior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich, Mass./Worcester Academy) and junior guard Chrystal Guarin (Aliso Viejo, Calif./Troy HS) all credited with three.
Mattice buried three of four triples en route to her highest scoring game as a collegian, and Brugliera made five of seven shots from the field. Bentley shot 43 percent overall, made six three-pointers and enjoyed an 8-2 edge in free throws made.
Senior forward Nicole Adach (Schenectady, N.Y.) made eight of nine shots for St. Michael's (0-3 NE-10) en route to a game-high 16 points. The rest of her teammates were just 11 of 38, with three of those made baskets coming in the final minute after the outcome had long been decided.
The win was the 699th as Bentley head coach, and 856th overall, for Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coach Barbara Stevens. She'll seek her 700th with the Falcons on Saturday when her team visits Southern New Hampshire with a 1:30 pm start.