WORCESTER, Mass. – Junior All-Conference forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) scored the first six of a late 15-2 run and finished with 14 points as Bentley University stayed undefeated with a 71-61 win over Assumption College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Wednesday night at the Laska Gymnasium.
Bentley, ranked number two in Division II, improved to 12-0 overall and 8-0 in the conference while extending its winning streak against East Region opponents to 25. The Falcons remained one game in front of Stonehill College, a 73-70 winner at New Haven, and moved two up on Assumption (9-3, 6-2 NE-10).
The Falcons, who led by as many as 16 before intermission, struggled at the offensive end for much of the second half and fell behind a few times, the last at 52-50 with 5:46 left.
Two free throws by Brugliera with 5:36 to play evened the score, and her lay-up with 4:40 left put the Falcons in front to stay at 54-52. The spurt grew to eight on baskets by Brugliera and junior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS).
After a second-chance foul line jumper by Assumption senior Katy Howard (Medway) interrupted the run, Bentley netted the next seven points to go up 11, 65-54, with 65 ticks of the clock left. Battista connected from four feet, senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) sank a pair from the line and senior guard Kelsey Roberson (Arlington/Arlington Catholic HS) dropped in her third three-pointer of the night.
Bentley locked up the win by hitting six of six free throws in the final minute, completing a season-best 18-of-19 effort from the stripe.
The Falcons built their large first-half lead on the strength of two substantial runs. A 17-4 explosion, which included three-balls from Roberson, freshman guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./ Souhegan HS) and senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy), made it 19-6 midway through the first half.
After Assumption cut the differential to three, a 15-2 burst produced Bentley's biggest lead, 36-20 with two minutes remaining until the break. Triples also played a major role in that one with Roberson, Crowell and sophomore guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) connecting from downtown.
On top by 11 when the second half started, Bentley scored only four points in the first 11 minutes as it misfired on 15 of 17 shots while also committing seven turnovers. That enabled the Hounds to come all the way back and eventually claim a 44-42 lead on a lay-up by senior forward Sabrina Siciliano (Fairfield, Conn.).
There would be two more lead changes before the Brugliera-fueled and decisive closing run.
Brugliera and Finn shared team-high scoring honors for Bentley with each also flirting with a double-double. Both had 14 points and Finn finished with nine rebounds, one more than Brugliera. Battista (12 points, nine rebounds) and Roberson (11 points) also scored in doubles for the Falcons, and Crowell added eight points off the bench.
Siciliano and Howard carried the offense for Assumption, finishing with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
Bentley outshot the Hounds overall, 37-35 percent, and dominated the boards to the tune of 46-36. Assumption was more efficient from three (8-17 to Bentley's 7-20) and both teams committed 16 turnovers.
Bentley will be back in action Saturday, with a 1:30 home game against Pace.