MANCHESTER, N.H. – Putting on a defensive clinic, the undefeated Bentley University Falcons yielded only 21 points as they used a series of runs to improve to 21-0 on the season, 61-21 over Saint Anselm College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Sunday afternoon at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
Bentley, ranked second nationally in Division II, gave up only eight second-half points, limited the Hawks to 20.5 percent shooting and forced 31 turnovers while stretching its winning streak against East Region opponents to 34. The 21 points was the fewest allowed by Bentley in 36 years, since a 53-19 victory over Holy Cross in January 1977.
Senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop HS) topped the scoring list for the Falcons with 13 points, along with seven rebounds, in 22 minutes. Junior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./Wachusett Reg. HS) moved to within 10 of 1,000 with 11 points in 14 minutes, and senior guard Kelsey Roberson (Arlington, Mass./Arlington Catholic HS) matched the 11.
Bentley, 17-0 in Northeast-10 play after outscoring the Hawks by 20 in each half, took a commanding 33-13 lead into the halftime break following runs of 9-0 to start, 11-0 midway through and 12-2 over the final 5:05. Roberson and Brugliera each had nine first-half points for the Falcons while Saint Anselm (4-17, 1-16 NE-10) had more turnovers (19) than shots (17) over the first 20 minutes.
The game-opening run began with two free throws by junior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS), the first of Roberson's three first-half triples and a put-bank by Brugliera. The 11-0 burst midway through, the Falcons' 21st run of at least 10 unanswered this season, was bookended by three-pointers buried by Finn, and the closing burst of the opening stanza was capped by a Brugliera triple with about two seconds left.
The runs continued once played resumed after the break. Bentley outscored the Hawks 14-2 over the first ten minutes of the second to extend the lead to 32 at 47-15. After a mini-burst by Saint Anselm (four points), the Falcons ran off 14 straight over a nine-minute stretch before a Hawk basket with 17 seconds left lifted the home team out of the teens.
Bentley, 9 of 20 from outside the arc, had as many three-pointers as Saint Anselm had in total field goals. The Falcons, who shot only 37 percent overall, made ten more free throws, 12-2, and finished with a 35-5 dominance in points off turnovers, with 23 of those coming during the first half.
Battista followed the three double figure scorers for Bentley as she finished with eight points, five rebounds and three steals. The bench scoring was paced by freshman guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS), with a pair of three-pointers, and sophomore guard Chelsea Lombardi (River Vale, N.J./Pascack Valley HS), with five points.
Junior forward Briana Jones (White Plains, N.Y.) was the only Saint Anselm player to score more than three, finishing with nine points.
Bentley, which leads the Northeast-10 by three games with five to play, is back at home for its next two, beginning Tuesday against St. Michael's College.