BC
Battista

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Five players scored in double figures, with Lauren Battista and junior guard Courtney Finn leading the way with 16 apiece, as Bentley cruised to a 77-58 win against District of Columbia in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Bentley, the regional's top seed and defending champion, improved to 28-3 with its 11th consecutive win and advanced to face fifth-seeded Franklin Pierce, a 78-68 winner against Pace. There were no lead changes in the game, the 12th time this season the Falcons have won without ever trailing, and only one tie, that coming at 2-2.

After that, the Falcons ran off 10 consecutive points, the 31st time this season they've had a run of at least ten unanswered, and the visiting Firebirds were never able to completely close the gap. The 10-0 spurt began with the second layup of the game by senior guard Katherine Goodwin.

Battista scored the next four, Finn added a layup and sophomore forward Jacqui Brugliera sank a pair of free throws to make it 12-2.

UDC countered with a 13-6 run that featured a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore guard Julissa Anderson, and with just under six minutes left in the first half, the Falcon lead stood at four at 25-21.

Bentley came back with 11 unanswered points, making it a 15-point game at 36-21 with two minutes left until intermission. Goodwin had five of the 11, sinking both a jumper and a triple off the fast break.

After starting the second half with a 10-point lead, coach Barbara Stevens' club scored the first six after play resumed, and UDC never came closer than 14 the rest of the way. Brugliera opened the second-half scoring with two free throws, Finn drove the baseline for two, and Battista sank a pair from the charity stripe.

The Bentley advantage hit 20 for the first time when Finn drained a three from the left wing with 11:14, making it 57-36. It would peak at 22 at 77-55 when junior forward Caleigh Crowell capped a late 8-2 run with a jumper.

Battista, a sophomore forward, was perfect on eight free-throw attempts, and also gave her team eight rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal. Finn was one of the few Falcons who shot well as she was four-of-seven from the field with two three-balls, and six-of-six at the line.  She also provided six rebounds and two takeaways.

Brugliera (12-14 free throws) and Goodwin (6-of-10 overall) both finished with 14 points, and Crowell came off the bench for a dozen points. Sophomore point guard Christiana Bakolas only scored two, but helped out in other ways, with seven assists, six boards, three steals and only one turnover in 27 minutes.

Senior guard Lauren Brittingham was the only UDC player to score in doubles as she finished with a game-high 21. Including a 12-for-12 effort from the foul line.

Bentley didn't shoot well (.356), but made up for that by dominating the boards (47-31 with 18 at the offensive end) and a 28-19 advantage in free throws made. The Falcons outscored the Firebirds 14-4 in second-chance points, 11-4 on the break and 17-11 off turnovers.