WALTHAM, Mass. – Overshadowed by the celebration of coach Barbara Stevens' 1,000th career win Wednesday against Adelphi University was the fact it was the ninth straight victory for the Bentley University women's basketball team.
The Falcons, who moved up from seventh to fifth in this week's WBCA Division II national coaches' poll, will attempt to push the current win streak to double figures when they host Southern Connecticut State University Saturday at the Dana Center. There will be a free webcast for the 1:30 pm contest at www.bentleyfalcons.tv.
It'll be a match-up of division leaders in the Northeast-10 Conference as Bentley leads the Northeast Division by a half-game over Stonehill and Southern Connecticut shares the top spot in the Southwest with Pace University, who the Falcons will see in a week.
Southern, which won 12 of 13 from Nov. 15-Jan. 3, halted a three-game slide with a 55-54 win at Franklin Pierce Wednesday. That victory over the Ravens was the Owls' ninth in 11 road games so far this season and lifted the team to 13-6 overall, including 7-4 NE10.
Bentley (17-1, 11-1 NE10) has had to come from behind in its last two games with the Falcons trailing New Haven by seven late in the third quarter and Adelphi by nine in the second. They turned it on with a 25-6 run over the final 10:30 against the Chargers and a 27-9 blitz during the final 7:35 of the second against the Panthers.
Stevens, one of five women's college basketball coaches to leave the court victorious 1,000 times, has numerous weapons at her disposal with senior guard Trevena Bennett (Union, N.J./Gill St. Bernard School) the latest of eight players who have scored at least 15 points in a game this season.
Bennett made her first start of the season Wednesday and finished with a season-best 16 points. Most came from deep as she buried four of seven beyond the arc. Four others also scored in doubles against the Panthers, including junior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) who had her ninth double-double.
Lux followed a 22-point, 13-rebound performance at New Haven with 17 points and 16 boards against the Panthers. Her efforts in wins 999 and 1,000 boosted her team-leading averages to 13.9 points and 9.9 rebounds on the season.
Bentley's other double-figure scorers are senior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./ Damascus HS) and Brown transfer Becca Musgrove (Plainview, N.Y./St. Anthony's HS), a graduate guard. Green (11.2 ppg) is the most accurate three-point shooter in the NE10 (.446) and has connected 225 times from three as a Falcon. Musgrove follows at 10.9 and leads the team in steals (38).
Senior guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) has played well this month, filling the stat sheet in numerous categories on a regular basis. In five January games, she's contributed 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.8 steals and a .929 free throw percentage to the Falcon cause.
Bentley will be taking on a Southern team that has been held in the low 50s in each of its first five crossover games. However, the Owls are solid defensively, ranking fourth in points allowed (57.4) and third in opponents' field goal percentage (.348). In both those categories, Bentley ranks in the top two (57.1, .346).
Senior forward Abby Hurlburt, who had the game-winning basket in Wednesday's win at Franklin Pierce, and sophomore forward Kiana Steinauer, the NE10's top rebounder, lead Southern with averages of 12.5 and 10.1 points, respectively
Hurlburt has a team-best 39 three-pointers and Steinauer, the only Owl rotation player shooting at least 40 percent from the field, is one of only four NE10 players averaging a double-double.
After facing the Owls, Bentley will have a week off before visiting Pace next Saturday for the final crossover game of the season.