WALTHAM, Mass. -- Freshman forward Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS), playing against her hometown team, scored a career-best 20 points and claimed seven rebounds as Bentley University overcame a rough start to record its sixth straight win, 78-63 over Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball at the Dana Center Wednesday night.
The victory elevated the Falcons, 6-1 overall, into a first-place tie in the Northeast-10 at 6-0, and moved Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coach Barbara Stevens to within one win of 800 for her career. She'll make her first attempt at joining the elite group on Sunday, Dec. 19 when Bentley hosts C.W. Post at 2 pm.
Currently, only four coaches in NCAA women's basketball history have achieved 800 wins: Pat Summitt (Tennessee), Jody Conradt (Texas), C. Vivian Stringer (Rutgers) and Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina). Stanford's Tara VanDerveer could conceivably beat Stevens to 800 as she stands at 798 with two games remaining before the 19th.
Points were hard to come by for Bentley early as Stonehill jumped out to leads of 7-0, 12-2 and 19-8 before the Falcons came alive. The visitors hit eight of their first 12 shots while Bentley missed its first six and started just four of 12.
By intermission the 11-point deficit had more than been reversed as Bentley dominated the final 12-and-a-half minutes of the half. Six straight points, including four by Battista, got the Falcons untracked and ignited a 15-4 spurt that evened the game at 23-23.
Bentley closed the opening half with a 12-3 run over the final 3:15, stretching a three-point lead to a dozen at 44-32. The Falcons pounded the ball inside, with 28 points in the paint, and received 17 points from the bench. Battista had 10 of the 27 points that the Bentley posts accumulated in the half and senior guard Kim Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS) had nine of her 13 points in the opening frame.
Bentley opened the game up during a seven-minute span down the stretch, using a 16-5 run to take a commanding 23-point lead, 76-53, with about three minutes left. Five different Falcons contributed points as part of the run, including junior guard Katherine Goodwin (Goffstown, N.H./ Governors Academy) with six free throws.
Battista achieved her 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, with one three-pointer, and 5-of-7 from the line. Brennan was next on the scoring list and the NE-10 leader in assist-turnover ratio boosted her lead in that category with five assists and only one giveaway. Senior forward Elise Caira (Wakefield/Arlington Catholic HS) followed with 12 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Bentley also received three triples for nine points from junior guard Meghan Thomann (Andover/Andover HS) and eight points from Goodwin.
Stonehill (6-4, 2-4 NE-10) was led by senior guard Emily Rousseau (Biddeford, Maine) and freshman Asia Ewing (Westford), each with 13 points. Rousseau's total was seven less than her 20.3 season norm, and the Falcons also contained senior guard Kristen McWhirter (Melvin Village, N.H.), whose six points was less than half her average.
Bentley had a slight edge in field goal shooting (46-44 percent), one more three (5-4) and enjoyed a big advantage at the line, making 15 of 24 to Stonehill's 5 of 8. The Falcons also dominated the rebounding (47-30) and had a 44-24 bulge in points in the paint.
At Waltham, Mass. (Dana Center)
BENTLEY 78, STONEHILL 63
STONEHILL (6-4, 2-4 NE-10) -- Emily Rousseau 6-15 0-0 13; Asia Ewing 6-12 1-3 13; Mary Louise Dixon 4-6 0-1 9; Amanda Smith 3-5 2-2 8; Kristen McWhirter 2-6 0-0 6; Cori O'Kane 3-7 0-0 6; Erika Higginbottom 2-4 0-0 4; Anna Griffin 1-5 0-0 2; Laura Discenza 0-0 2-2 2; Tania Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 5-8 63.
BENTLEY (6-1, 6-0 NE-10) -- Lauren Battista 7-11 5-7 20; Kim Brennan 6-12 0-0 13; Elise Caira 6-11 0-1 12; Meghan Thomann 3-5 0-0 9; Katherine Goodwin 1-7 6-8 8; Shatasia Kearse 3-3 1-2 7; Jacqui Brugliera 2-5 3-6 7; Christiana Bakolas 1-5 0-0 2; Courtney Finn 0-2 0-0 0; Kelsey Roberson 0-1 0-0 0; Ashley Saia 0-0 0-0 0; Caralyn Hart 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-63 15-24 78.
Halftime: B 44-32; 3-point goals--S 4-9 (McWhirter 2-4; Dixon 1-1; Rousseau 1-2; O'Kane 0-2), B 5-16 (Thomann 3-5; Brennan 1-4; Battista 1-2; Finn 0-2; Hart 0-1; Goodwin 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--S 30 (McWhirter, Smith 6), B 47 (Brugliera 9). Assists--S 17 (O'Kane 5), B 18 (Brennan 5). Total fouls--S 18, B 10. Technical fouls-- None