WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior All-America forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) became the all-time leading scorer in Bentley University women's basketball history, junior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) joined the 1,000-point club and the 12th-ranked Bentley Falcons earned a trip to Sunday's Northeast-10 Conference championship game with an 81-49 semifinal win over Saint Anselm College Thursday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, after recording its 14th straight win this season and 17th straight in NE10 championship action, will take a 26-4 record into Sunday's title game at 25-4 Adelphi University. Although both teams were number one seeds in their respective divisions, the Panthers will be the home team by virtue of a 62-60 win over the Falcons back in January. It'll be the Falcons' 27th appearance in the finals and coach Barbara Stevens' team will be looking for its 20th championship, including sixth in the last seven years.
Both Gemma and Green achieved their milestone baskets during a fourth quarter that the Falcons outscored the Hawks 24-4.
Gemma displaced 2014 WBCA Division II National Player of the Year Lauren Battista from the top of Bentley's career scoring list with a three-point play with 4:18 left in the contest, following a steal and a feed from junior guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School). That gave the two-time NE10 Player of the Year 2,115 points, three more than Battista totaled from 2010-14.
Gemma had tied Battista's mark about 80 seconds earlier with a lay-up that capped a run of 17 straight points that began in the final minute of the third quarter.
Gemma finished with her eighth double-double of the season, filling her stat line with 15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.
Appropriately, Green became the 34th 1,000-point scorer in program history when she drained a three-ball from the right side with six-and-a-half minutes left in the final stanza. It was her third triple of the night and 182nd of a career that has seen her score 1,001 points. She's only the 18th Falcon to reach that plateau before her final season.
Green, who left the game right after knocking down the milestone three, finished with 11 points, four assists and two steals.
But on a night of milestones, it was the two Bentley starters who didn't earn All-Conference honors that played a major role in the Falcons' success. Sophomore forward Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, and junior guard Trevena Bennett (Union, N.J./Gill St. Bernard School) followed with 17 as the two were a combined 13 of 21 from the floor.
After her team fell behind 8-0 to start the game, Bennett scored 11 points in the final 5:27 of the opening stanza. She drained a three from the left corner with 5:27 on the clock, hit a fast break lay-up off a steal 19 seconds left, completed the three-point play with a free throw, knocked down another triple with 1:41 to play and quickly followed that with a steal and a lay-up.
All told, Bentley finished the opening quarter with a 21-8 run over the final seven minutes and took a 21-16 lead into the second. The Falcon first-half lead peaked at 12, 41-29, before Saint Anselm (19-10) scored the final five points to make it 41-34 at the break.
In the third, the Falcon advantage ranged from seven to 13 points. It was 57-45 heading into the fourth after lay-ups from freshman guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) and Smith (9 points, 9 assists, 2 steals) in the final 40 seconds started what would eventually become a 17-0 run.
The fourth was all Bentley with the Falcons limiting the Hawks to just 2 baskets in 18 attempts.
Lux made seven of her 12 shots and came within a single rebound of a double-double. Bennett's night included six baskets in nine attempts, two of four from deep and three of five from the line. She also had three rebounds and two steals.
Senior guard Candace Andrews (Boston) led Saint Anselm with 28 points, five rebounds and three steals. She kept her team in the game during the opening stanza, scoring 22 of the Hawks' 34 points.
Bentley outshot the Hawks 49-29 percent overall and finished with an 8-3 advantage from downtown, connecting at a 47 percent clip. The Falcons also took outstanding care of the ball (only seven turns as compared to 15 for the Hawks) and finished with a 26-7 advantage in points off.
Adelphi advanced with a 67-57 homecourt win over Le Moyne in a game they had trailed 25-9 after the opening stanza. The Panthers finished with a 15-6 run during the final five minutes.