Battista Scores 21 as No. 1 Bentley Improves to 21-0, 89-70 at Assumption

Caleigh Crowell
Caleigh Crowell

WORCESTER, Mass. – Senior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) scored 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting and four teammates joined her in doubles as the undefeated Bentley University women's basketball team won its 21st of the season, 89-70 over Assumption College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Thursday evening at the Laska Gymnasium.

Bentley, the season-long number one in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II coaches poll, improved to 16-0 in conference play, maintaining its four-and-a-half game lead over Stonehill College in the NE-10's Northeast Division. Assumption fell to 12-8 overall and 8-7 NE-10.

Battista was followed in the scoring column by grad student Courtney Finn (Winthrop/ Winthrop HS) and senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy), with 18 and 17 points, respectively, as the trio combined for 56 points on 59 percent shooting.

After a slow start, Bentley outscored the Hounds 28-13 over the final 11 minutes of the first half to take a ten-point lead, 44-34, back to the locker room. It was a balanced attack by the visitors with Battista scoring 11 and Finn, Crowell and senior point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./ Central HS) all between eight and ten.

Down 6-0 to start, Bentley took its first lead of the night when Crowell knocked down a top-of-the-key three with 9:42 to play, in the midst of what turned into a 12-2 run. After a foul-line jumper from junior forward Caitlin Ackerman (Nashua, N.H.) evened the game at 23, a drive to the basket by Finn and a three-point play from Battista put the Falcons up for good at 28-23.

The second-half began with an 11-1 Bentley run that doubled the halftime advantage to 20, 55-35. Crowell had five of the 11 and Battista helped out with four.

Bentley's lead peaked at 25, 81-56, when Battista hit a baseline jumper with 6:03 to play to cap an 8-0 Falcon run.

Battista, who pushed her school record point total to 1,859, became only the fifth player in the program's history to reach 800 career rebounds with four against the Hounds putting her exactly at that milestone.

Finn was perfect in ten trips to the charity stripe and also helped out with four rebounds and four assists. Crowell dropped in four three-pointers, and Bakolas filled the stat sheet with ten points, nine rebounds, five assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes. Senior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/ Wachusett Reg. HS) only scored six, but she recorded eight rebounds and blocked five shots.

Off the bench, freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) made four of five shots and finished with ten points, four rebounds and two assists.

Senior point guard Shannon Ray (Yonkers, N.Y.) led Assumption with 16 points and five rebounds.

Bentley, which missed 10 of its first 12 shots, connected at a .587 accuracy rate over the final 33 minutes and finished at an even .500. Assumption shot 34 percent overall and was outrebounded by 14, 44-30. The Falcons dominated in the paint (32-12), committed only seven turnovers and had a 23-21 edge in free throws made.

Bentley, after having the weekend off, will host Merrimack College Tuesday at 5:30 pm.