MANCHESTER, N.H. – Senior All-America forward Lauren Battista (North Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames HS), named the Capital One NCAA Division II Academic All-America of the Year earlier in the day, celebrated with a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds as the undefeated Bentley University Falcons cruised to their 24th win of the season, 95-55 over Southern New Hampshire in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Wednesday night at the SNHU Field House.
Battista, who pushed her school record point total past 1,900 to 1,915, led five Falcons in double figures as the season-long number one in the USA TODAY Sports/WBCA Division II coaches poll moved to within two wins of an unblemished regular season and improved to 19-0 in conference play.
In the wire-to-wire win, Bentley put up its second-highest field goal percentage of the season, .567, and collected an incredible 72 percent of the game's rebounds, claiming 52 to SNHU's 20.
With senior point guard Christiana Bakolas (Manchester, N.H./Central HS), Battista and freshman Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) combining for as many points as SNHU had as a team, Bentley brought a 45-31 lead into the halftime break. The Falcons scored the first five points on a Battista second-chance basket and a three-ball from the right corner by senior forward Caleigh Crowell (Harwich/Worcester Academy), and went on to lead by as many as 16.
Ten turns hurt the Falcons during the opening 20 minutes, but 53 percent shooting, including 71 percent over the first ten minutes, and a 28-9 rebounding dominance helped Bentley take a double-figure lead into intermission for the 18th time in 24 games.
The second half opened with a 14-4 burst, fueled by seven points from All-Region grad student Courtney Finn (Winthrop, Mass./Winthrop HS), that made it a 59-35 game after five minutes of play.
Later in the stanza, a 12-2 run made it 71-40 with 9:33 left and a 13-2 pushed the differential to 38, 84-46, with a little more than four minutes on the clock. The lead eventually peaked at 42, 95-53, in the final minute.
Battista shot over 60 percent for the ninth time in 13 games, finishing 8 of 13. She also filled the stat sheet with eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
Gemma provided 14 points off the bench, Finn scored 13 and junior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) tallied a dozen. Finn and Gemma matched Battista in the rebound column with eight, and Finn also delivered six assists.
Bakolas, in her final collegiate game in her hometown, scored 12 on four-of-six shooting with a pair of three-pointers, and also had four assists and three rebounds.
Junior guard Brooke Springfield (Jeffrey, N.H.) was the only player to score in doubles for SNHU (7-17, 5-14) as she finished with 11.
Bentley shot a blistering .625 from three-point land, knocking down 10 of 16, and finished with more offensive rebounds (21) than the Penmen had in total. The Falcons outscored the home team 25-8 in second chance points and 17-0 from the foul line.
Bentley will close out the regular season with a pair of home games, beginning Saturday at 1:30 against Stonehill. Senior Day festivities will start at 1:10 pm, so fans are encouraged to arrive early, and that will also be the team's annual Pink Day.