RINDGE, N.H. – Senior All-America forward Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half and junior point guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) provided 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds as Bentley University held on for a 61-60 win over Franklin Pierce University in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the FPU Fieldhouse.
Bentley, ranked number one nationally in the D2SIDA Media Poll, improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the NE-10 despite not scoring for the final five minutes.
The Falcons opened their biggest lead of the game, 61-54, when sophomore forward Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) scored off an inbound play midway through the fourth quarter. By that point, Bentley had already scored 37 second-half points, including 25 in the third when they turned a seven-point deficit into a one-point lead.
After neither team scored for about two minutes, Franklin Pierce's comeback began with junior forward Kelsey Mayo (Oakland, Maine) hitting one of two from the line with 2:58 showing. A three-point play by freshman Cameryn Wilson (Newport News, Va.) made it a three-point game, and senior guard Dana Campbell (Merrick, N.Y.) buried an 18-footer with 1:32 to play, cutting the Falcon advantage to 61-60.
That proved to be the final score as neither team could find any points in the final 90 seconds. Franklin Pierce (1-3, 0-2 NE-10) had a chance late but Mayo's wild seven-footer was off the mark and the ball went out of bounds to the visitors with one second left.
Bentley went into the halftime locker room looking at a 31-24 deficit after giving up a buzzer-beating three to Wilson at the first quarter buzzer and getting outscored 15-10 in the second.
Nearly half of Bentley's first-half points were scored by Smith, who scored 11 without missing a shot (3-3 from the field, 5-5 at the line).
Smith had four assists in the first 3:06 of the third quarter, three of those resulting in Gemma inside baskets, and the Falcons were back within two, 35-33. After the Ravens restored their lead to six, sophomore guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) heated up for Bentley, using a personal 8-2 run to tie the game at 45. That 50-second burst included Bentley's first two threes of the game, a steal and a lay-up.
An 8-0 Bentley run surrounding the break between the third and fourth put the Falcons in front to stay. That flurry included a driving lay-up with one second left by Smith and two Gemma baskets.
Gemma, who pushed her career total to 1,630 points with her 21, also had nine rebounds for Bentley. McConnell was the team's third double-figure scorer, finishing with 10 off the bench.
Campbell and Mayo both had 15 points for Franklin Pierce, with Mayo also ripping down 16 rebounds, including an astounding 12 offensive.
Bentley outshot the Ravens 43-36 percent with most of the success coming in the third when the Falcons were 11 of 19 (.579).
Bentley will be back at home Tuesday night, hosting Assumption College at 5:30 pm.