Explosive Start Propels Bentley to 100-57 Win Regular Season Perfection

Jen Gemma
Jen Gemma

WALTHAM, Mass. – For the first time in 22 years and the second time in program history, the Bentley University women's basketball team completed its regular season schedule with a perfect record.

The nation's top-ranked Division II team, now 26-0 overall and 21-0 conference, shot 55 percent overall, knocked down seven of nine from three-point land and committed only eight turnovers en route to a 100-57 Northeast-10 Conference win over Franklin Pierce University Tuesday night at the Dana Center.

Graduate student and All-Region guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS) powered the Falcons with 22 points, matching her uniform number, and Bentley also received 18 points from All-America senior forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) and 16 off the bench from freshman forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy).

Bentley established control from the start, using a full-court press to vault out to leads of 14-0 after four minutes and 25-2 after eight.

The opening explosion began with a lay-up from senior forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/ Wachusett Reg. HS), who was very active early at both ends of the court. Senior point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester/Central HS) scored the next five, Brugliera followed with a put-back, Finn made two from the line and senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy) stuck a triple from the left corner.

After the Ravens finally removed the zero from the scoreboard 4:10 after the opening whistle, Bentley added another 11 unanswered points. Bakolas hit a jumper in the paint, Finn converted a three-point play and added two more from the line, Gemma scored a second-chance basket and a lay-up by graduate student Chrystal Guarin (Aliso Viejo, Calif./Troy HS) finished a fast-break.

Battista scored the final two baskets of the opening half, sending the Falcons into the break up 21 at 50-39, and the lead never dipped below that level in the second half.

Second-half runs of 12-2 and 13-4 made it an 87-48 lead with five-and-a-half minutes left and the differential eventually peaked at 48 when sophomore Erica Oundjian (Longmeadow/Longmeadow HS) buried a three-ball from the left wing with 1:18 to play.

Finn made all three of her attempts from beyond the arc and finished six of eight overall from the field and seven of eight from the line. She also had five rebounds in 26 turnover-free minutes. Battista, also turnover-free, complemented her 18 points with four rebounds and three assists while moving to within 52 of 2,000 for her career.

Gemma, whose 16-point evening included 6-of-6 free throws, had a team-best eight rebounds and the Falcons also received 10 points and five assists from Bakolas. Brugliera, in only ten minutes, finished with nine points, four rebounds, two steals and a block.

Sophomore Kara Charette (Fairhaven) scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting for Franklin Pierce, which dipped to 15-11 overall and 11-9 in the conference.

Bentley, which reached the century mark for the first time this season, was a plus-11 on the boards (38-27) and committed 11 less turnovers with FPU losing the ball 19 times, resulting in 17 Falcon points. Free throws were also heavily in the Falcons' favor with coach Barbara Stevens' team finishing 23 of 32, as compared to FPU's 13 of 17.

Bentley will begin its bid for a fourth consecutive Northeast-10 tournament championship Sunday at 3 pm when it hosts the winner of Friday night's Le Moyne-Saint Anselm game.