NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./Edgewood GS), junior guard Maddy Springfield (Jaffrey, N.H./Conant HS) and senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) combined for 36 rebounds as Bentley University used a plus-28 rebound margin for a wire-to-wire 67-44 win at Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon on Hammel Court.
Bentley, ranked 14th nationally in Division, reached the 25-win milestone for the fourth straight year, the eighth time in the last nine seasons and the 25th time in program history. Naismith Hall of Fame finalist Barbara Stevens saw her club improve to 25-2 overall and 19-1 NE10 after running the current winning streak to 12.
With the defense limiting Merrimack (8-1 in its last nine games) to only one basket in its first 18 possessions, Bentley scored 19 of the game's first 21 points and was up 19-4 after the opening stanza. The Falcons were pounding the ball inside throughout the quarter and although they weren't shooting well, they were getting numerous second chance opportunities due to nine offensive rebounds.
Merrimack found its shooting touch in the second, making nine of 16 shots during a 24-point quarter and drew within 11 at the half, 39-28. Four of the nine baskets were from distance, including two off the bench from freshman guard Kate Mager (New City, N.Y.).
Lux, despite making only 3 of 12 shots, led all scorers with 12 points in the half and had six rebounds. Senior guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) followed with eight and Meriggioli collected seven rebounds, helping the Falcons dominate in that category, 32-16.
A 9-2 Falcon run to begin the second half pushed the advantage to 18 points, 48-30, and the Warriors (only 7 of 34 after intermission) never threatened. Four times during the game's final 7:15, the lead hit a game-high 23 points.
Lux and Meriggioli both turned in double-doubles for Bentley. Lux scored a game-high 16 and grabbed ten rebounds while Meriggioli had 15 rebounds for the second straight game. She also pitched in with 14 points.
Lewis matched Meriggioli in the scoring column and also provided eight rebounds, two steals, two assists and two blocks. Junior forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS) added 12 points off the bench, Springfield had a career-best 11 rebounds and senior guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) dished seven assists.
Merrimack, 18-9 overall and 11-9 conference after scoring a season-low point total, received 12 points from sophomore forward Mayson Kimball (Webster, N.H.). She accounted for nine of her team's 16 second-half points. Junior center Denia Davis-Stewart (Dorchester), who came in averaging a double-double, managed only three points, four rebounds and three blocks in 18 foul-plagued minutes,
Bentley outshot the Warriors 37-27 percent, made 10 of the game's 13 free throws and nearly doubled the home team on the boards, 60-32.
The Falcons will close out the regular season Tuesday at home against Franklin Pierce and will begin defense of their NE10 championship Sunday with a home quarterfinal game.