MANCHESTER, N.H. – Freshman guard Kolleen Bouchard (Houlton, Maine/Houlton HS) stepped in to draw an offensive foul with 7.5 seconds left and senior forward/guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) sank both free throws a second-and-a-half later as the Bentley University Falcons stayed unbeaten with a 70-65 win at Southern New Hampshire in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Wednesday night at the Stan Spirou Field House.
Bentley, ranked fifth nationally in Division II, improved to 9-0 overall and 5-0 NE10 despite seeing a 22-point second-quarter lead completely erased. Southern New Hampshire, which accounted for half of the Falcons' four losses last season, dropped to 6-3 overall and 2-3 conference.
The opening quarter was all Bentley as the Falcons outscored the Penmen 19-7 despite turning the ball over six times (none of which led to any SNHU points). The visitors made 8 of 13 shots overall, including three of seven from distance, while receiving scoring from a half-dozen players.
The first stanza featured a 14-0 run with SNHU being held scoreless for more than six-and-a-half minutes. Three-pointers by Meriggioli and Fontaine bookended the run, and Fontaine also hit an eight-foot runner.
The second-quarter lead peaked at 22, 37-15, when Fontaine knocked down her second triple of the night. Earlier in the second, an 8-0 Bentley spurt included two three-pointers from McConnell.
Southern New Hampshire, after being held to 24 percent shooting before intermission, rarely missed while erupting for 33 points in the third quarter. The Penmen made nine of their first ten shots and finished 12 of 18, including six of eight from three-point land.
On the strength of that hot shooting, SNHU tied the game at 53 on a triple from the left corner by junior forward Victoria Dean (Plymouth, Mass.) with 1:17 left in the third. Two free throws by Lewis returned the lead to the Falcons and made it 55-53 heading to the fourth.
A quick start to the final stanza put Bentley in front 62-55. Fontaine hit a three from the top-of-the-key, Bouchard made one of two at the line and junior guard Maddy Springfield (Jaffrey, N.H./ Conant HS) nailed a three from the left side.
SNHU battled back, cutting the lead to one, 66-65, when senior forward Kylie Lorenzen (Holliston, Mass.) made two free throws with 3:04 left, points that turned out to be her team's final ones of the night. The Penmen misfired on four shots for the lead or a tie with the game's only scoring until the clutch free throws by Lewis being one of two at the line by McConnell.
After Bouchard took the charge and Lewis made it a four-point game, Bentley closed out the scoring with one of two at the line by Springfield with two-tenths of a second left.
McConnell, who also had five assists, and Fontaine (5-7 from the floor, 3-3 3's) were joined in doubles by senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) with 11 points. Lewis and Bouchard both scored eight and sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wisc./Edgewood HS) followed with seven points and nine rebounds.
Five SNHU players scored in doubles with junior guard Molly Terry (Shrewsbury, Mass.) leading the way with 15, all scored via the three-ball. Lorenzen posted a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Bentley shot better (44-35 percent), made more free throws (13-7) and won the rebounding battle (38-34). However, the home team made more threes (12-9) and took better care of the basketball, losing it four less times than the Falcons' 18.
Bentley will be on the other side of Manchester Saturday for a 1:30 pm game at Saint Anselm.