WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy), playing her final career regular season game, had 17 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and a season-high 16 rebounds as Bentley University held on for its 13th consecutive win, 57-55 win over Franklin Pierce University in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball on Barbara Stevens Court Tuesday night.
Bentley, ranked 13th nationally in Division II, improved to 26-2 overall and 20-1 in conference play. Franklin Pierce, which led by as many as 15 in the opening quarter, finished its season at 4-22 overall and 2-19 NE10.
Although at opposite ends of the NE10 Northeast Division standings, the two clubs went into the fourth quarter even at 46 points apiece.
After the Ravens missed two free throws early in the fourth, consecutive lay-ups by Lux gave the Falcons a 50-34 lead with 7:31 to play. Following two Franklin Pierce makes from the line, the 9-2 run continued with a three-point by sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./Edgewood HS) and a second-chance basket by Lux.
Franklin Pierce battled back with a three from freshman guard Lisa Sulejmani (Burlington, Vt.) and a lay-up by another freshman, six-foot-two Izzy Lipinski (Farmington, Conn.), to close within two, 55-53 with 4:36 remaining.
Lux scored again with 3:51 to play, pushing the difference back to four, but that proved to be her team's final points of the night. It remained 57-53 until Lipinski scored and was fouled with 1:19 left. She couldn't convert the three-point play, keeping it a two-point game.
The Ravens had one more chance after a Lipinski rebound and FPU timeout with four seconds left. The Falcons escaped when Sulejmani's buzzer-beating off-balance runner was off the mark.
Bentley had tough time getting untracked, with six turnovers and only three points on their first 14 possessions. In the meantime, Franklin Pierce made nine of its first 12 to claim a shocking 18-3 lead. The Falcons drew within eight by the break, 18-10, after a 7-0 burst that included five points by senior guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS).
A fast start to the second quarter by Franklin Pierce pushed the lead back to 14, 25-11, but the Falcons were able to cut the deficit in half by the break, 34-27.
Bentley tied the game for the first time with 3:03 to play in the third following back-to-back threes from junior guard Juiia Ford (Charlton/Noble and Greenough) and sophomore forward Marissa Fontaine (Franklin/Bishop Feehan HS). Another Fontaine triple, this one with 1:11 to play, gave Bentley its first lead of the game, 46-44.
Lux scored her 17 by making six of nine overall and five of eight free throws. Meriggioli joined her in doubles with 14, along with six rebounds, and the Falcons also received eight points and five rebounds from junior forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS).
Four Ravens scored in doubles with Sulejmani leading the way with 15 points and six assists.
Franklin Pierce shot better, 43-36 percent, but Bentley had the edge in three-pointers (6-4), free throws (11-5) and rebounds (41-30).
Bentley will begin defense of its Northeast-10 Championship Sunday with a quarterfinal game at 3 pm against the winner of Friday's Southern New Hampshire/American International first round contest.