WALTHAM, Mass. – Three days after reaching the 20-win milestone for the 31st time in the last 34 seasons, the Bentley University women's basketball team will look to extend its eight-game winning streak when it hosts Franklin Pierce University on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 1:30 pm with a free webcast at www.bentleyfalcons.tv.
Prior to the game, a number of former Bentley players will take to the court one more time for the annual Alumni Game at 11 am.
The Bentley women's basketball program will also be raising money during the day for the Play4Kay campaign, which benefits the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Donations can be made at the game or by visiting https://support.kayyow.com/team/105263.
Coach Barbara Stevens' team, ranked 19th nationally by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, improved to 20-4 overall and 16-1 in the Northeast-10 Wednesday with an 84-68 win over Southern New Hampshire. The Falcons, who have already clinched the NE10 Northeast Division regular season title, have four games left until the conference championships.
Bentley's point total against SNHU was its highest in a conference game this season and featured an even .600 shooting percentage, along with a 17-0 Falcon advantage in free throw attempts.
Saturday will mark the first game for Bentley senior forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) since the All-America became the first player in program history with at least 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She's the only active Division II player to have reached those marks (although Queens' Madison Rowland is close), and the first NE10 player in 20 years to turn the double.
Gemma achieved both milestones Wednesday during a 21-point, seven-rebound, four-assist, two block night, numbers she achieved in only 26 minutes. Rebound number 1,000 came in the first half and she eclipsed 2,000 points a couple minutes into the final stanza.
Fourth in the conference in scoring and sixth in rebounds, Gemma's season production stands at 18.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a game. The six-footer, who trails all-time leading scorer Lauren Battista by 111 points, has taken her rebound game to another level in over the last month, totaling 106 in the last nine games.
Junior guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) had her third 20-point game of the season last time out while also contributing eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Smith, who had a streak of 32 consecutive free throws made come to an end Wednesday, has her scoring average up to 11.6. She also provides 4.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game.
Bentley has received solid play from the bench in recent games with sophomore guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) among the key contributors. She had a career-high 13, without missing a shot (5-5 fg, 3-3 3's), Wednesday and has given her team 8.5 points a game over the last six.
It's been a difficult year for Franklin Pierce in Jeannette Wedo's first season at the helm. The Ravens are just 2-20 overall, with both wins coming back in November, and are still searching for their first conference victory (0-17).
Despite that lack of success, the Ravens gave Bentley all it could handle up in Rindge, N.H. on Nov. 19 with the Falcons holding on for a 61-60 win. Bentley was held scoreless over the final five minutes with Franklin Pierce missing three shots for the lead in the final 45 seconds.
Franklin Pierce, which has not had the services of four of the top five scorers from last year's 14-13 team, doesn't have a double-figure scorer on the roster. Junior guard Jemma Thacker and sophomore guard Sarah Middleton top the scoring list at 9.2 points apiece and senior guard Dana Campbell follows at 9.0.
The Ravens are coming off a 60-53 loss to St. Michael's, a game that saw senior forward Mikayla Deguire put up a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double. She's played well of late, averaging 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds during her last four.
Bentley will play at St. Michael's Wednesday before hosting Saint Anselm next Saturday in the final home appearance of the regular season.