Dominating First Half Propels No. 2 Bentley to 11-0, 72-49 over Saint Anselm

Lauren Battista
Lauren Battista

WALTHAM, Mass. – Bentley University junior All-America and reigning conference Player of the Year Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS) matched Saint Anselm College in the scoring column over the first 21 minutes (each with 12 points) and finished with 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals as the Falcons stayed undefeated, 72-49 in Northeast-10 women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.

Bentley, off to its best start in 15 years, improved to 11-0 overall and 7-0  while extending its East Region winning streak to 24 and recording its 16th consecutive home victory. Saint Anselm, which never held the lead in a game that was tied only at 3-3, fell to 4-7 overall and 1-6 in the conference.

Coach Barbara Stevens' team, ranked second nationally in Division II, put this one away with a 41-10 explosion over a span of 17 minutes, beginning with about 12 minutes left in the first half. The Falcons tripled the Hawks at the half, 36-12, after closing the opening 20 minutes with a 26-5 burst, and came back with a 15-5 flurry to open the second, making it a 51-17 game with close to 15 minutes still remaining on the clock.

That amazing stretch included Bentley's 13th and 14th runs of the season with at least 10 unanswered points. It began with a 10-0 spurt that featured two three-pointers from sophomore guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) and also included 11 straight points sandwiched around halftime. Battista played a role in that one with four points and an assist.

At the half, Bentley had as many assists (12) as Saint Anselm had points, with both Battista and junior guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) delivering four helpers. In addition, the Falcons had more three-pointers (6) than the Hawks had total field goals (5), and Saint Anselm had more turnovers than points (13-12).

Battista, junior forward Tyler Parker Kimball (New Britain, Conn./New Britain HS) and senior guard Kelsey Roberson (Arlington/Arlington Catholic HS) combined to shoot 17 of 24 for Bentley, which finished at an even .500 overall. Battista was eight of 11 overall, Kimball made five of six off the bench while scoring a career-high 10 off the bench, and Roberson drained four of seven three-pointers for 12 points.

Bentley also received 11 points, six rebounds and three assists from senior guard Courtney Finn (Winthrop/Winthrop HS). She connected from downtown three times, helping the Falcons match its season-best in threes with 10.

Saint Anselm, held to 32 percent, was paced by 10 points off the bench from freshman guard Krista O'Gara (New Fairfield, Conn.).

Led by Battista and Kimball, the Falcons dominated in the paint, 32-10, and the Falcons also forced 24 turnovers, resulting in 26 points off. On the other hand, Bentley lost the ball only 15 times, which Saint Anselm turned into 16 points, most coming after the outcome had been determined.

Bentley will be in Worcester on Wednesday at 5:30 pm for its only meeting of the regular season against Assumption. The Greyhounds, off to a 9-2 start and a game back of the Falcons in the standings, were picked second to Bentley in the preseason NE-10 coaches poll.