Nova Southeastern Shoots Down Bentley, 81-66

Monica Viapiano
Monica Viapiano

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Sizzling fourth-quarter shooting, including seven of eight from three-point land, propelled defending NCAA Division II South Regional champion Nova Southeastern University to an 81-66 win over Bentley University in non-conference women's basketball Monday night at the Taft University Center.

Four Falcons scored in doubles with senior center Monica Viapiano (Holden, Mass./Holy Name HS) leading the way with 14 in 18 foul-ridden minutes.

Nova Southeastern also had four with at least ten, including junior guard Esabelle Levine (Eden Prairie, Minn.) with 18, along with eight rebounds.

 In the decisive fourth, the 1-2 Sharks made nine of 11 shots and scored 30 points to take control of the contest. Levine led the onslaught by sinking three of four from downtown during an 11-point quarter and senior guard Iva Ilic (Koprivnica, Croatia) added nine points with a pair of triples.

Bentley, which had closed to within one with 2:16 left in the third quarter, was down only five, 54-49, after graduate guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) hit a pair of free throws with 8:09 left.

Nova went on a 13-1 run, ignited by two Levine triples, and the Falcons were suddenly looking at a 67-50 deficit with four-and-a-half minutes left. That run included three-balls from junior Annie Santucci (Akron, Ohio) and Ilic.

Points were hard to come by in the first half for the Falcons, who were outscored 14-2 in the first 4:20 and 15-8 in the second quarter.

Of Bentley's 29 first-half points, 19 were scored during the final 5:20 of the opening quarter, a burst that saw the Falcons cut the Shark lead from 12 to two.

The Falcons, 2-2, also had a major run in the third, a 14-4 spurt that brought the visitors to within one, 45-44. Eight of the 14 were scored by Viapiano.

Viapiano was joined in doubles by sophomore guard Kari Brekke (Appleton, Wisc,/Appleton North HS) with 13, Lewis with 12 and junior guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wisc./Edgewood HS) with ten, along with six rebounds.

Nova outshot Bentley, 54-37 percent, and finished 12 of 21 from three-point land.  The Falcons, on the other hand, made only five of 19 from deep with both Brekke and freshman Ella Thompson (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS) knocking down two of three.

Bentley will return home for its next two, beginning Saturday against Queens College (N.Y.) at 12:30 pm (note the change of time).