WALTHAM, Mass. – A game featuring two of the 11 remaining unbeaten teams in NCAA Division II women's basketball did not disappoint, as the No. 9 University of the Sciences women's basketball team closed the game on a 12-2 run over the final 4:38 to knock off No. 2 Bentley, 76-71, in a top-10 showdown at the Dana Center on Friday evening.
The Devils (9-0)have now beaten a ranked Bentley team in three consecutive seasons, although the odds were stacked against them trailing by as many as nine in the third quarter and by five, 69-64, with just 6:23 to play.
USciences would hold Bentley to 0-8 shooting from that point forward though, with the Falcons making just two free throws.
Bentley (12-1) then made one of its free throws, only to have Colleen Walsh come right back with two of her own to knot the score at 70 with 2:47 to go.
Following two missed Falcons foul shots, Irisa Ye gave University of the Sciences its first fourth quarter lead, 72-70, 40 seconds later.
Bentley made another free throw to cut the deficit to one, but Vitelli and Thomas combined to make 4-of-4 free throws in the final 1:14, and the USciences defense forced three more missed shots to seal the triumph.
Vitelli and Thomas both made all four of their free throw attempts, with Ye going 7-of-7, as University of the Sciences made 18-of-19 as a team (94.7 percent), compared to Bentley going 18-of-32 (56.3).
The Devils also dominated the glass, outrebounding the Falcons 37-22, led by Mikaela Giuliani's career-high eight boards.
Ye paced a balanced scoring attack with a game-high 17 points, to go along with six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Thomas and Vitelli each added 15, with both scoring eight in a fourth quarter that saw USciences outscore Bentley 22-11.
Jess Huber came off the bench to score nine points on 3-of-6 3-pointers.
Taylor Hamm and Walsh contributed eight and seven points, respectively, while Giuliani rounded out the scoring with five.
Both teams held at least a five-point lead in a first half that was played within two possessions.
Trailing 29-24 with 6:58 to play in the second quarter, University of the Sciences rattled off five straight points, before back-to-back Huber 3-pointers sparked a 9-2 surge that ended with a Walsh triple for the largest advantage of the half, 40-34, with 2:36 showing.
Bentley was able to respond, eventually hitting a running layup at the buzzer to go on top 47-46 heading into locker room.
The Flacons then controlled a low-scoring third quarter, outscoring USciences 13-8 and at one point taking a game-high nine-point lead, 60-51, with a minute showing, before Ye made three free throws in the final minute to make the score 60-54 entering the fourth.
Thomas got the Devils as close as two, 62-64, 2:54 into the fourth, but Bentley score five of the next seven points to go up 69-64 with 6:23 to play.
University of the Sciences continues a four-game stretch against top 10 teams in the East Region tomorrow, Dec. 29, when it tips off against Assumption at 2 p.m. on the first day of the Stonehill Holiday Classic.