No. 1 Bentley holds on to win
St. Michael’s second-half run falls short as Falcons survive
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Playing its first game as the top-ranked team in the country, Bentley used a dominating start and a late 15-3 game-clinching run to remain undefeated in 75-66 win against St. Michael's on Wednesday.
Bentley, which ascended to the top spot for the first time on Tuesday, improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 NE-10. It was the fourth time this season that the Falcons have maintained the lead throughout after scoring the game's opening points.
The Falcons spread the offense around with four of five starters scoring in double figures. Sophomore forward Lauren Battista led the way with 14 points, Jacqui Brugliera posted her first double-double of the season of 13 points and 11 rebounds, and junior guards Kelsey Roberson and Courtney Finn followed with 12 and 10 points respectively.
It looked like the Falcons would be able to coast to the victory after using a 26-7 explosion to grab a commanding 38-14 lead with a little less than six minutes left in the first half.
The spurt began with Bentley scoring 10 in a row to extend a five-point lead to 15, 22-7 with 11:04 left. Senior Shatasia Kearse scored the first four, Battista netted the next three and Finn buried a three-ball.
After St. Michael's forward Nicole Adach interrupted the run with a layup, Bentley answered by scoring the next nine points. Finn had the first five, and forward Caleigh Crowell, playing her first game as a Falcon after missing 38 due to injury, followed with a quick four points.
A 3-pointer by Roberson with 5:53 left on the first half clock made it a 24-point lead and elevated the Falcon's shooting percentage to 71 percent.
Bentley would hit only two more baskets the rest of the half and by the time the two teams went into the break, the lead was down to 15 following a 16-7 Purple Knight run.
The Falcons, despite struggling offensively, were still in front by 13 with 14:54 left in the game following a 3-pointer buried by senior Katherine Goodwin. The next nine points went up on the St. Michael's side of the scoreboard, and by the time the clock hit 12 minutes, Bentley's lead had shrunk to five 55-50.
Later in the half, six consecutive points by the visitors, including four from sophomore Alexa Long, made it a two-point game 60-58 with 7:23 remaining.
Bentley came alive at that point, using a 15-3 spurt to lock up the win. Battista scored the first five and senior guard Meghan Thomann connected on a three from the right wing to restore the lead to double figures 68-58.
After a St. Michael's 3-pointer, the Falcons put the game away by scoring the next seven points, including a three-point play on a driving layup by Roberson. St. Michael's, after drawing within two, came up empty on nine of its next 10 possessions, before Long connected from outside the arc with 68 seconds left, after the lead had hit 14.