COLCHESTER, Vt. – Sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./Edgewood HS) put up a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double, senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) matched her in the scoring column and the Falcon bench totaled 30 points as the Bentley University Falcons grabbed a 71-59 victory over St. Michael's College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Wednesday evening at the Ross Sports Center.
Bentley, ranked 14th in Division II for the second straight week, improved to 24-2 overall and 18-1 NE10 while extending its winning streak to 11 games. The Falcons had previously wrapped up the conference's Northeast Division title. St. Michael's dropped to 11-13 on the season, including 7-12 NE10.
Nothing was decided in a first half that saw six ties and seven lead changes before Bentley carried a 34-32 lead into the locker room.
St. Michael's owned the first half of the opening quarter, scoring ten of the game's first 12 points. However, the Falcons picked up the offense over the final five-plus minutes, using a 17-8 burst to take a 19-18 lead at the end of one. Junior forward Monica Viapiano (Holden, Mass./Holy Name HS) provided the spark with six points off the bench.
There was no separation in the second quarter, which had six ties and no team leading by more than two. Lux was Bentley's top scorer in the second with five points.
With the score tied for the ninth and final time, Bentley strung together a 10-3 run to open a 49-42 advantage with 1:52 left in the third. Lux had five of the ten and junior guard Julia Ford (Charlton, Mass./Noble and Greenough) stuck a three-ball from the left corner.
In front by five after three, Bentley made it a double-digit lead for the first time when they opened the fourth with six unanswered. Lux made two free throws, Meriggioli followed with a second-chance basket and Lux scored inside.
After the Purple Knights drew within five, Ford came up big with her three from the right corner and baseline jumper making to a 10-point lead, 60-50 with 5:23 to play. She also drained a three from the left wing for a 63-54 advantage with 2:35 left.
Two free throws apiece by Meriggioli, senior guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./ South Windsor HS) and Ford in the final 1:11 secured coach Barbara Stevens' 1,035th career victory.
Meriggioli, who matched her career-high in rebounds, and Lux were following on the scoring sheet by Viapiano and Ford, who combined for 11 of 18 shooting from the bench. Viapiano made seven of 11 shots for 14 points and Ford, three of four from deep, set a career-high with 13 off the bench. McConnell was held scoreless from the field but equaled her career best with eight assists.
Senior guard Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y.) led St. Michael's with 17 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Domination on the boards and at the charity stripe played a key role in the outcome. Bentley outrebounded the home team, 48-33, and the Falcons had a 15-4 advantage in free throws. The Falcons shot slightly better, 39-36 percent, and had six more points in the paint.
Bentley's final road game of the regular season will be Saturday afternoon at Merrimack College (1:30 pm).