EASTON, Mass. – Senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy) and junior point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) combined for 40 points on 15 of 18 shooting as Bentley University, the number one-ranked team in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II poll, pulled away in the second half for an 81-62 win over seventh-ranked Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball at the Merkert Gym Saturday afternoon.
Crowell finished with 23 points, matching her point total from the season's first five games, and Bakolas, who came in averaging 4.4, finished with 17 points, equaling her career high, and a career-best nine rebounds.
Bentley improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference while Stonehill fell to 4-2 and 1-1 with its second loss to a top-five team.
Ahead by two at the break, 38-36, Bentley stretched its advantage to nine, 52-43, during the first four-and-a-half minutes of the second with Crowell accounting for half of the 14 points. She followed up a steal with a lay-up, drained a three from the right corner and scored inside. Grad student Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) also had a hand in that surge with a pair of drives to the hoop for five points.
Bentley broke the game wide open during a eight-minute stretch later in the half, outscoring the Skyhawks 19-1 to take a commanding 79-51 lead with 1:54 left. Freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton/ Fontbonne Academy) tallied the first six and then Bakolas dropped in a pair of three-balls, one from each corner.
The Falcons started the game strong, jumping out to an 8-2 lead after 2:20 and 17-10 with less than eight minutes elapsed. A dry spell of more than four minutes followed and Stonehill capitalized, scoring 13 unanswered to grab a 23-17 lead. Junior guard Amy Pelletier (Beverly) netted all ten of her points during that stretch.
Bentley battled back, tying the game at 30 on a Bakolas lay-up with 3:10 left in the first half. That was part of a stanza-ending 12-6 run that sent the Falcons into the break up a pair.
Crowell was a sizzling nine of ten from the field with three trifectas, and also provided five rebounds, two steals and two blocks in a strong all-around game. Bakolas finished six of eight overall, was perfect on three attempts from downtown, and also chipped in with four assists and two steals.
Finn also reached doubles, providing 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals, and Gemma just missed a double-double off the bench, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds. The win was achieved despite a quiet game from All-America forward and leading scorer Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS), who was just 1-of-8 overall for two points. Despite that, she was a factor with eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Senior guard Mary Lou Dixon (Wellesley) led four double-figure scorers for Stonehill, but she scored nine of her 18 points after the lead hit 28.
Bentley outshot the Skyhawks 47-37 percent and finished a plus-11 on the boards, 45-34. The Falcons also committed five fewer turnovers and outscored the Skyhawks 16-7 in points off turns.
Bentley will be back at home Tuesday night for a 5:30 game with Southern New Hampshire.