BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Junior All-America and Academic All-America Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS) erupted for 26 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds as Bentley University, the second-ranked women's basketball in Division II, remained undefeated with a wire-to-wire 76-58 non-conference win over the University of Bridgeport Sunday afternoon at Hubbell Gym.
The road win gave Bentley its first 10-0 start in 15 years, since the 1997-98 team opened with 18 consecutive victories, and extended the team's winning streak against East Region opposition to 23 games. Bridgeport, which trailed by double figures for most of the final 36 minutes, saw its record fall to 6-4.
It didn't take Battista and her teammates long to establish control of this one as the game's first 12 points went up on the Falcon side of the scoreboard. The six-foot forward scored seven of her 26 before the Purple Knights netted their first points of the game, and the fast Bentley start also included a three-pointer from senior guard and co-captain Kelsey Roberson (Arlington, Mass./Arlington Catholic HS).
After the Purple Knights pulled within six at 13-7, Bentley embarked on a 16-3 explosion that resulted in a 29-10 lead with 11 minutes left in the opening half. Sophomore guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./North Syracuse Cicero HS) had the first nine as she knocked down three triples in a span of about 90 seconds.
By the time that run concluded, Bentley had made 10 of its first 16 shots.
Bentley cooled down significantly over the rest of the first half, making only four of its final 23 from the floor, but Bridgeport could do no more than draw to within 10 at the break, 41-31.
The differential remained between eight and 14 points for the first ten minutes of the second, until a 6-0 Falcon spurt pushed it to a 16-point game, 63-47, with 7:47 left. Freshman guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) fueled that one with both a three-pointer and a lay-up, and the Falcons maintained a lead before 14 and 18 the rest of the way.
Battista's 26-point effort matched the second highest offensive output of her career, trailing only the 29 she scored at Bridgeport a year ago. She's played three career games in Hubbell Gym and has amassed three double-doubles while averaging 26.7 points and 11.3 rebounds.
Battista, who moved ahead of Janet Kerrigan '94 into 17th on Bentley's all-time scoring list with 1,172 points, shot 12 of 19 overall and also provided four assists.
The Bentley bench outscored Bridgeport's reserves 28-0 with Mattice, White and senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich, Mass./Worcester Academy) leading the way. Mattice finished with 10, all coming in a span of 2:05 during the first half and White helped out with eight points in 13 minutes. Crowell helped out with eight points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS), senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop HS) and Roberson also contributed to the win. Bakolas finished with seven points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals, and Finn's line included ten rebounds, five assists and six points. Roberson delivered a season-best seven assists in addition to scoring five points.
The combo of six-foot senior Tanisha Carter (East Hartford, Conn.) and guards Priscilla Dodoo (Worcester, Mass.) and Aziza Patterson (Teaneck, N.J.) accounted for all but six of Bridgeport's points. Carter finished with 20, Dodoo had a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double, and Patterson provided 16 points, eight assists and five steals.
Bentley heated up to 54 percent shooting in the second half and finished at 43 percent while the Purple Knights became the ninth Falcon opponent this year to shoot under 40 percent, finishing at just .338. The Falcons dominated the boards (54-40 with 18 at the offensive end) and made as many free throws (13) as UB attempted.
Bentley will be back at home Saturday for a 1:30 pm Northeast-10 encounter with Saint Anselm.