WALTHAM, Mass. – The Bentley University Falcons, ranked second nationally in Division II, used a punishing 30-0 explosion over a span of 13-plus minutes to open a commanding 49-11 halftime lead and withstood Skyhawks' hot second-half shooting to post a 66-50 win in a battle of unbeaten Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball teams Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Bentley improved to 7-0 overall and 6-0 in the Northeast-10 while Stonehill fell to 8-1 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The victory was the Falcons' 20th in a row against East Region opponents, as well as their 14th straight at home.
The balanced Falcon attack (six players with eight points or more) was powered by junior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS), who finished with 13 points, on 6-of-9 shooting, and nine rebounds against her hometown team. Junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) followed with a season-best 10 points and seven assists, and senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) also scored 10 for the Falcons.
After Stonehill used a three-point play to take its only lead of the afternoon at 3-2, Bentley's run of 30 unanswered began with a Battista lay-up with 17:58 left. Finn followed with a lay-up of her own, Bakolas hit a pair of free throws, senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy) made a basket and Battista and Bakolas teamed up for a fast-break basket, making it 12-3.
By the time the monster run concluded, freshman guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) had eight points and Stonehill had failed to score on 28 consecutive possessions. The Skyhawks, over that spanned, missed 16 consecutive shots and lost the ball a dozen times on turnovers.
Stonehill's second field goal of the afternoon came with only 4:33 left in the half, the basket by freshman Paige Marshall (Braintree) cutting the Falcon lead to 32-5.
Bentley closed the opening half with 11 straight points, over the final 2:01, with the run including a pair of lay-ups by Bakolas.
At intermission, nine different Falcons had assists and five players had between seven and nine points, with Battista topping the list with nine, along with seven boards. Stonehill shot only 12.5 percent in the half, misfiring on 21 of 24 shots, and turned it over 14 times, resulting in 18 Falcon points.
Bentley never got it going in the second half as it was outscored by the Skyhawks 39-17. The Skyhawks connected 12 of their first 19 shots to cut the halftime deficit in half, 59-40 with 8:50 left. The Falcons righted the ship with a 7-2 run, making it 66-42 with 4:14 to play, before Stonehill tallied the game's final eight to make the score respectable.
In addition to the three double-figure scorers, Bentley received nine points from junior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) and eight apiece off the bench from White and Crowell.
Sophomore forward Tori Faieta (Lynn) shouldered most of the offense for Stonehill as she finished with a game-high 14 points, along with six rebounds and two blocks.
Bentley outshot the visitors 41-33 percent, made one more three-pointer (7-6) and finished with a 24-10 edge in points off turns. The Skyhawks lost the ball 20 times, five more than the Falcons, and were outrebounded, 41-34.
Bentley will be down on Long Island Tuesday, playing a 5 pm game at Dowling College. The next home game will be next Sunday afternoon against LIU Post.