LOWELL, Mass. – Courtney Finn tied a school record with seven three-pointers and forwards Lauren Battista and Shatasia Kearse each registered a double-double as the Bentley University women’s basketball team posted a convincing 82-57 season-opening win against Holy Family University Saturday in the Northeast-10/CACC Challenge at UMass-Lowell’s Costello Athletic Center.
Bentley, the reigning NCAA Division II East Region champion, entered the contest ranked second in Division II preseason, and Holy Family was 18th in the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA rankings.
The Falcons scored the game’s first 13 points while holding the Tigers scoreless for the first five minutes. Finn’s first triple of the day made it 6-0 after two-and-a-half minutes, a three-pointer from senior guard Meghan Thomann with 15:50 left gave Bentley a double-digit lead it would never relinquish, and a short jumper by Kearse with 15:18 on the clock made it 13-0.
By the time Holy Family got on the scoreboard on a lay-up by sophomore forward Katie Duma, the Tigers had already taken two timeouts, committed five turnovers and missed their first five shots. Meanwhile, by that juncture, five different Bentley players had already scored.
Bentley’s lead reached 20 for the first time on the first of two free throws by grad student Elise Caira (Wakefield/Arlington Catholic HS) with 5:54 left, and the first-half advantage peaked at 24, 41-17, on a basket by Battista in the final minute before the break.
The score was 41-18 at the half with the Falcons outscoring the Tigers 21-0 from outside the three-point line during the opening stanza. Finn had four of her team’s eight and Holy Family misfired on all 11 of its attempts from downtown.
Holy Family showed signs of making it a game a couple times in the second half, pulling within 15 after two minutes and within 16, 57-41, with 11:24 left. That second surge was answered by seven straight Falcon points, three by Battista and four by Caira, and the lead remained in the 20s for virtually the entire final 10 minutes.
Finn, whose 21 points was a career-best, achieved her seven treys in 12 attempts from downtown. That tied the Bentley record set by Lori Bender in 1987 and matched by both Keri Flynn (2002) and Lauren Moore (2004).
The sophomore Battista (6-8 from the floor, 7-10 free throws) followed with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Kearse, a senior, had a productive game off the bench, finishing with 15 points (7-9 shooting) and 12 boards. Junior guard Chrystal Guarin had seven points and three assists in her collegiate debut, and both Caira and Thomann had six points. Each helped out in other ways as well with Caira claiming seven rebounds and Thomann finishing with six assists and a couple steals.
All-Conference junior center Erin Mann (Narberth, Pa.), held scoreless in the first half, led Holy Family with 12 points in 19 foul-plagued minutes.
Bentley shot 43 percent overall and 44 percent from three, making a dozen from long range, and limited Holy Family to just 31 percent, including 3-22 from three. The Falcons also dominated the boards, finishing with a 55-34 advantage.