Gemma Scores 19 as No. 1 Bentley Advances to NCAA Regional Semis with 62-54 Win over Saint Anselm

Lauren Green
Lauren Green

WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy), the Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year, scored 19 points and the Falcon defense allowed only eight points during a span of 16 minutes midway through as Bentley University posted a 62-54 win over Saint Anselm College in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball East Regional Friday night at the Dana Center.

Bentley, now 26-5, will face fourth-seeded Queens (N.Y.), a 76-64 winner over Holy Family, in the second half of Saturday's semifinals (7:30) after running its postseason winning streak to 13 games. Saint Anselm finished its season at 18-10.

Following a first quarter that included six lead changes and ended with the Falcons up 20-18. Bentley took over in the second, outscoring the Hawks 17-7.

Coach Barbara Stevens' team, after blanking Saint Anselm for the final 90 seconds of the opening quarter, did the same for the first four-and-half of the second. While keeping the Hawks off the board, the Falcons put up 11 unanswered, the first three coming in the first on a basket and free throw by freshman guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England).

Four different players contributed points during the first three minutes of the second as Bentley went up 28-18 on a jumper by sophomore guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS), a lay-up by Gemma, a fast break finished by sophomore guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) and a drive by freshman forward Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy).

On top 12 at the break (37-25), Bentley began the second half the same way it did the second quarter, by keeping the Hawks off the scoreboard for the first four-minutes plus. That enabled the Falcons to extend the lead to 19, 44-25, the last three coming on a three from Gemma.

After Bentley's advantage peaked at 20, 50-30, Saint Anselm closed the third quarter with a 7-2 spurt to climb within 15, 52-37. The lead was cut in half with 7:41 remaining in the fourth as a three from sophomore Ali Glennon (Bedford, N.H.) made it a 52-42 game.

Two free throws by Gemma stopped the Falcon dry spell with 6:59 to play and five Bentley charity tosses in the final 77 seconds secured the berth in the semis.

Gemma, who made three of five triples while struggling inside the arc (3-16), also provided eight rebounds and three blocks. Lewis joined her in doubles, finishing with 11 on three-of-four shooting. Bentley also received nine apiece from Lux and Green, and both Smith and junior center Melina Kollia (Athens, Greece) pitched in with six points off the bench. Smith also came up with five of the Falcons' 10 steals.

Junior guard Candace Andrews (Boston) led Saint Anselm with 26 points (including her team's final 12), seven assists and four steals.

Saint Anselm shot better, 40-38 percent, but Bentley had the edge at the line (16-18 as compared to 9-16), two more rebounds (34-32) and nine less turnovers (14-23). The Falcons outscored the Hawks 32-18 in the paint and 20-7 in points off turnovers.

In its game, Queens took charge by outscoring the Tigers 31-10 in the second quarter and withstood a fourth-quarter comeback bid by Holy Family to win by 12. Junior guard Madison Rowland (Albany, N.Y.) led the 21-8 Knights with 31 points, four steals and three blocks, and her older sister MacKenzie followed with 17 points, five assists, seven rebounds and two blocks.

The first half of Saturday's semifinal twinbill will have second-seeded American International taking on number six NYIT at 5 pm. AIC used a basket by Brianna Bishop with 1.7 seconds left to edge Bloomfield, 61-59, and NYIT used nine threes to oust Philadelphia, 88-74.