Bentley Athletics

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Senior All-Conference guard Kim Brennan scored 17 of her season-high 24 points in the second half and freshman forward Lauren Battista dropped in a career-high 23 points as Bentley University rallied for a 69-63 win against Saint Anselm College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Tuesday night at the Stoutenburgh Gym.

The conference-leading Falcons, ranked 17th nationally in Division II, remained a game up on second-place Franklin Pierce, which topped St. Michael's, 80-71, for its ninth consecutive win. Bentley improved to 19-3 overall, moving within one of its 26th 20-win season in the 28 years, and 16-2 in the NE-10.

Bentley, which trailed by as many as eight in the second half, was still down by six, 48-42, following a 3-pointer from Saint Anselm junior guard Epiphany Smith with 11:37 left.

Brennan sank a pair of free throws to begin the Falcon comeback with 11:14 on the clock and buried a 3 from the right wing about 50 seconds later. Following a Hawk turnover, a lay-up by junior post Shatasia Kearse, off a Battista feed, gave Bentley its first lead since early on, 49-48.

After one of two at the line by Smith tied the game, Bentley embarked on a 15-5 surge to open a 10-point lead, 64-54, with 3:35 left. Battista broke the tie with her two free throws with 8:16 left putting the Falcons in front for good. A three-point play by Brennan made it 56-51, and consecutive lay-ups by Goodwin, freshman forward Jacqui Brugliera and Goodwin stretched it 62-53 with 4:15 remaining.

Down ten with 2 minutes left, Saint Anselm managed to whittle the lead to three with a 7-0 run capped by a three-point play from junior forward Megan Howard with 53 seconds left. Bentley misfired on a 3 on its next possession, but a Hawk 3-point attempt to tie fell way short, the Falcons taking possession of the ball with 13.6 seconds left.

One of two free throws by Brennan with 12.8 seconds on the clock made it a two-possession game, and following a Hawk missed lay-up, Battista closed out the scoring by sinking two free throws with eight-tenths of a second left.

Brennan, ninth on Bentley's all-time scoring list with 1,558 points, achieved her top scoring night of the season by making seven of 13 shots overall, two of three from outside the arc and eight of 12 free throws. She also had her best rebounding night of the campaign with five.

Battista also had a strong all-around game as she made six of nine shots, sank 11 of 13 free throws, collected four rebounds, delivered four assists and came up with two steals. Brugliera followed with 12 points and eight boards, and Goodwin scored six.

Howard powered Saint Anselm, coming off the bench for 19 points and 13 rebounds.

Saint Anselm outshot the Falcons, 44-41 percent, and outrebounded the visitors, 38-31. However, the Falcons had a big edge at the line (23-30 as compared to 11-15), had a 19-12 advantage in points off turnovers (the Hawks lost it six more times) and a 12-7 edge in second-chance points.