WEST HAVEN, Conn. – Senior post Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./Wachusett Reg. HS) powered her way to a season-high 26 points and nine rebounds as Bentley University, the number one-ranked team in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II poll, remained undefeated with a wire-to-wire 87-65 win over the University of New Haven in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Wednesday night at Charger Gymnasium.
The win put Bentley coach Barbara Stevens on the brink of joining the elite 900-win club. Owner of a career mark of 899-246, she'll make her first attempt to become only the sixth NCAA women's basketball coach to amass 900 victories Saturday afternoon (1:30 pm) when the Falcons host Saint Anselm College.
Bentley improved to 17-0 overall and 12-0 NE-10 while extending its lead in the NE-10 Northeast Division to four-and-a-half games over Stonehill College, which was upended by Southern Connecticut State. New Haven, which entered the day tied for the lead in the Southwest Division, dropped to 12-5 overall and 7-4 NE-10.
It took the Chargers 12 attempts and nearly six minutes to score its first points of the night. By that point, Bentley had 11 points on the scoreboard, including five by senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich, Mass./Worcester Academy) with a second-chance basket and a three-ball from the left side.
After a pair of New Haven baskets, Bentley put together a 14-2 run to stretch the lead to 18, 25-7, a little more than eleven minutes into the game. Crowell had another five points during that burst, giving her 10 for the game and three more than the Chargers had as a team.
New Haven gradually cut into the lead, pulling within 11 by the half (45-34) and getting as close as seven, 47-40, a couple minutes into the second half.
With the difference at eight with about 15 minutes to play, Bentley put the game away by outscoring New Haven 24-9 over the next eight-and-a-half minutes, opening a commanding 78-55 lead. That run began with eight unanswered points, a run capped by Crowell's third triple of the night, this one from the right wing.
Brugliera was also a factor in the 24-9 run, scoring ten points in less than three minutes. She finished the night 11 of 19 from the field, including 11 of 16 inside.
In addition to Brugliera and Crowell (13), Bentley also received double figures in the scoring column from graduate student Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop HS), senior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS) and freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy). Gemma tallied 14 off the bench and missed a double-double by one, Finn collected 13 points and eight rebounds, and Battista recorded 11 points and six assists.
Battista's 11 boosted her career total to 1,784 and moved her to within 16 of Bentley's career scoring record of 1,800, held by Kelly Barker '01. Finn and Brugliera each surpassed 1,300 career points and moved into a tie for 15th in program history, both finishing the game with 1,308.
Junior guard Aquillin Hayes (Harlem, N.Y.) led New Haven with 20 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Bentley shot 47 percent while holding the Chargers to 34 percent, and outscored the home team in the paint by an amazing 32 points, 50-18. Rebounds were also in the Falcons' favor by a wide margin, 49-35.