NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Freshman forward Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg, Mass./Wachusett Reg. HS) dropped in 24 points and claimed 12 rebounds, and classmate Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS) added 15 points, as Bentley University, the 19th-ranked team in Division II, led from start to finish for a 77-61 victory over Southern Connecticut State in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Moore Field House.
Bentley, with its 12th straight win, improved to 12-1 overall, the team's best start in 11 years, and 9-0 in the Northeast-10. The Falcons maintained a one-game lead over Assumption College in the conference standings while Southern Connecticut dropped to 6-8 overall and 2-7 NE-10.
Bentley went into the halftime break riding a 15-point advantage at 50-35, with the play of the team's three available post players a major factor. Brugliera (14 points, six boards), Battista (13 points) and junior Shatasia Kearse (Framingham, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury HS), with seven off the bench, combined for 34 first-half points on 11-of-14 shooting.
The Falcons opened the game with eight unanswered points, the middle four scored by Battista, and never allowed the Owls to get closer than five. A top-of-the key three from Brugliera made it 40-24 with 5:29 left and Bentley's first-half advantage peaked at 19, 50-31, following a fast break lay-up from Battista with 1:31 on the clock.
Both teams shot 52 percent in the opening half, but Bentley used a substantial edge at the line (14-2 in free throw makes), eight second-chance points and five fewer turnovers to separate itself from Southern.
Bentley built on its lead during the opening five-plus minutes of the second half, with Brugliera's third triple of the night capping an 8-0 run and making it a 24-point game, 66-42 with 14:35 left.
The Falcon offense stalled from there, with only two points over the next seven-plus minutes. Southern picked up 17 points over that lengthy dry spell, pulling to within nine at 68-59.
The Owls didn't score again for more than six-and-a-minutes, and while Bentley also continued to struggle offensively, coach Barbara Stevens' club did come up with seven points to restore its advantage to 16, 75-59 with 1:25 left. Junior guard Katherine Goodwin (Goffstown, N.H./Governors Academy) had the first five of that 7-0 surge, two free throws following a steal and a three-pointer.
Brugliera finished seven of 11 from the floor, with three treys in as many attempts, and was also perfect on seven trips to the foul line. Battista was five of eight overall and five of six at the stripe, and also contributed seven boards. Goodwin followed with eight points and six rebounds, and Bentley received seven points apiece from Kearse, freshman Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) and senior Kim Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS). Brennan also provided six assists and three steals, and Bakolas collected six rebounds.
Four players accounted for all but two of Southern's 61 points, with junior guard Sylvonya Moore (Stockton, Calif.) topping the list with 19. Six-foot-two senior Shelley Pierson (Watervliet, N.Y.) had a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds), and senior guard Logan Lentz (Chambersburg, Pa.) finished with 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds in a 40-minute effort.
Both teams cooled off significantly in the second half with Southern outshooting the visiting Falcons, 43-40 percent. The Falcons made 17 more free throws (19-2), were plus-five on the boards (42-37) and forced 24 turnovers.
Bentley is back at home on Tuesday for a 5:30 meeting with American International.
At New Haven, Conn. (Moore Field House)
BENTLEY 77, SO. CONN. STATE 61
BENTLEY (12-1, 9-0 NE-10) -- Jacqui Brugliera 7-11 7-7 24; Lauren Battista 5-8 5-6 15; Katherine Goodwin 2-14 2-2 8; Shatasia Kearse 3-4 1-1 7; Christiana Bakolas 2-7 3-3 7; Kim Brennan 3-11 1-2 7; Kelsey Roberson 2-3 0-0 6; Meghan Thomann 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 25-62 19-21 77.
SO. CONN. STATE (6-8, 2-7 NE-10) -- Sylvonya Moore 9-18 1-2 19; Keshia Primo 6-14 0-0 15; Shelley Pierson 7-9 0-4 14; Logan Lentz 4-10 1-2 11; Camille Fantini 1-4 0-0 2; Moni Smith-Ocran 1 0-0 0; Alex Fiola 0-7 0-0 0; Lauren Allen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-63 2-8 61.
Hallftime: B 50-35; 3-point goals--B 8-19 (Brugliera 3-3; Roberson 2-3; Goodwin 2-5; Thomann 1-4; Brennan 0-3; Bakolas 0-1), SCS 5-18 (Primo 3-5; Lentz 2-6; Fantini 0-2; Fiola 0-5). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--B 42 (Brugliera 12), SCS 37 (Pierson 11). Assists--B 14 (Brennan 6), SCS 16 (Lentz 8). Total fouls--B 13, SCS 16. Technical fouls--None.