WALTHAM, Mass. – During the Barbara Stevens' era, her Bentley University women's basketball teams have strung together 21 winning streaks of ten games or longer. At the top of the list was a 37-game streak, which ran from the start of the Falcons' undefeated 2013-14 national championship season into the start of the next one.
Bentley, which climbed from 19th to 15th in this week's Women's Basketball Coaches' Association Division II coaches' poll, will attempt to add to that total Wednesday night when the Falcons are in Colchester, Vt. to take on St. Michael's College. The 5:30 pm contest from the Ross Sports Center can be seen free of charge on www.smcathletics.tv.
Bentley will head to the northwest section of New England carrying records of 21-4 overall and 17-1 Northeast-10 following Saturday's 74-35 thrashing of Franklin Pierce. Stevens' team had previously clinched the conference's Northeast Division title and assured itself of being the number seed from the division in the NE10 championship tournament (Bentley will host a quarterfinal game Sunday, Feb. 27).
The Falcons will be facing a Purple Knight team that is battling for both a playoff berth and positioning. St. Michael's, 12-11 overall and 10-8 NE10, is in the middle of five teams who are battling for four spots. Assumption and Saint Anselm are both a game in front of the PK's and Merrimack and Stonehill are both a game back.
During Bentley's current streak, the Falcons have held five teams to 37 percent shooting or worse, won the rebounding battle eight times and allowed only 11 free throw attempts a game. For the season, they've made 52 more free throws than the opponents have tried.
Senior All-America forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy), 37 points away from a third straight 500-win season, sports averages of 18.5 points and 8.3 rebounds and career marks of 2,021 points and 1,012 boards. Number two on all-time list, she trails former teammate and all-time scoring leader Lauren Battista '14 by 91 points.
Junior guards Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) and Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) own scoring averages of 12.0 and 11.6 respectively. Green is a 40 percent shooter from deep and Smith has made 88 percent of her attempts from the foul line.
Several other players have stepped for the Falcons in recent games, including sophomore guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS), who has made 10 of 12 threes and averaged 8.8 points in her last five games. Freshman forward Monica Viapiano (Worcester/Holy Name HS) had 12 points off the bench against Franklin Pierce, and sophomore post Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/ Thornton Academy) has 10+ rebounds in four of the last six games.
While Bentley is the conference's top scoring team at 70.9, St. Michael's checks in at tenth, averaging 59 a game. Sixty-five has been a key number for the Purple Knights as they are 6-0 when reaching that scoring level and only 6-11 when below. They are also 7-1 when shooting at least 40 percent from the floor.
Junior guard Leah Spencer has been having a solid season for St. Michael's, averaging 15 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2.4 assists. Six-two sophomore Samantha Delaney has also been productive, providing 11.2 points, eight rebounds and an impressive 2.0 blocks.
In the earlier meeting between the two squads, Bentley won every quarter and prevailed 80-59 back on Dec. 7. Gemma led the way with 26 points in 25 minutes.
The Falcons will be back at the Dana Center Saturday for a 6 pm Senior Day game against Saint Anselm College.