Victoria Lux came home to Arundel last summer following her sophomore year at Bentley University with one thought in mind: get better.

That meant getting in better shape, becoming a better shooter, becoming a better basketball player.

VICTORIA LUX

“Every day, twice a day,” she said of her summer workouts. “I had Sundays off, but that was it. If there was a day when I felt sore, I thought about what the coaches told me I needed to do, and that pushed me on.”

And all that work has paid off. Lux, the former Thornton Academy and McAuley star, is now the lead player on the nation’s third-ranked NCAA Division II women’s basketball team.

Bentley is 18-1, riding a 10-game winning streak, and Lux leads the Falcons in scoring (13.8 points), rebounding (9.9), offensive rebounds (3.9) and blocked shots (1.1). The 6-foot-1 junior center was this week named the Northeast-10 player of the week for the second time this season after averaging 14 points and 13 rebounds in two home wins.

Among those games was a 78-66 victory over Adelphi that gave Barbara Stevens her 1,000th career coaching victory. Lux scored 17 points with 16 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot in that one.

“She’s had a lot of pretty good games for us,” said Stevens. “She’s always been a young woman with a tremendous amount of potential. She played alongside a two-time All-American (Jen Gemma, the school’s all-time leading scorer) her freshman and sophomore years. Now that kid has graduated and we’ve got a different look, a different style. And Victoria has really blossomed.”

The Falcons have spread the floor more, getting the ball inside to Lux and letting her go 1-on-1 when she has the opportunity.

It’s a role Lux has played almost her entire life.

“I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, always inside the paint,” said Lux. “I love it. You’ve got to be strong and know what you’re doing.”

Lux, whose older sister Vanessa played at Bentley from 2004-08, has always been a strong inside player. A three-time all-state selection, she spent her first three years of high school at McAuley (now the Maine Girls’ Academy), helping the Lions win three Class A state titles. Then she transferred to Thornton Academy for her senior year, helping the Trojans reach the Class A state title game where they lost to Lawrence.

Eric Marston, the coach at Thornton Academy, said her contributions to the team’s success went far beyond the court.

“From Day One in tryouts she was a great leader by example, vocally and physically,” he said. “She had an immediate positive impact on our team.”

Lux credits her summer workouts, either in the gym or on the road, with giving her an edge this year. She had been a steady performer for the Falcons in each of her first two years, but was told she needed to get better.

“We just told her it was time to step up and she knew that started with getting in great shape,” said Stevens.

And Lux worked harder than ever. “I knew coming in preseason I was ready and I hadn’t felt that ready in my freshman and sophomore years,” she said. “I knew it was going to be a good year for me and my team.”

The Falcons are deep. Stevens can run out 10 players and not see much of a drop-off. And that pushes everyone.

“Everyone wants to play,” said Lux. “I know every practice everyone comes out to play, it’s always go 100 percent and you have to work your hardest. It pushes me to work my hardest every day.”

Opposing teams now know how good Lux is and are trying all kinds of things to stop her: double-teams, triple-teams, zones, playing physical. But she has continued to lead the Falcons. Stevens said she has watched Lux mature each season.

“She has, every year, understood and appreciated all that it takes to be a good player, a good student and a good person,” said Stevens. “She’s such a great kid with a tremendous personality. On the court, she’s learned to focus and do what we ask her to do. She’s handling all the different forms of pressure she has seen, and that takes maturity and poise.”

The Falcons, who won the Division II national title in 2014, have lofty goals again. And Lux will play a lead role.

“I know we’re going to count on her as the season goes along and we hopefully head to the playoffs,” said Stevens. “A lot rides on her shoulders. I think she’ll be fine.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH