No. 3 Bentley, Stonehill to Square Off Wednesday with Northeast Division Lead at Stake

Macchi Smith
Macchi Smith

WALTHAM, Mass. – Sole possession in the Northeast-10 Conference's Northeast Division will be up for grabs Wednesday when the Bentley University women's basketball team takes its 19-1 record and number three national ranking to Easton to face the Stonehill College Skyhawks for the second time this season. Tip-off at Merkert Gymnasium is at 5:30 pm with a free webcast available at www.stonehillskyhawks.tv.

Both teams have been outstanding in the 11 weeks since Bentley shot past Stonehill, 84-73, back in the conference opener back in mid-November. The two are even at the top of the Northeast standings, both with 13 win in 14 conference games. Stonehill is 9-0 on its home court and the Falcons are 11-0 away from Waltham.

Bentley, a victory away from the 33rd 20-win season in program history, is riding an 11-game winning streak. Stonehill has won 17 of 18 since falling to the Falcons in its season-opener and will bring an eight-game win streak into the 107th all-time meeting between the two long-time foes.

Both clubs have been among the best in the NE10 defensively this season while Bentley has been the more productive offensive team. The Falcons give up 57 points a game and limit their opponents to a .348 field goal percentage. Stonehill yields 57.6 points on average with their field goal percentage defense .340.

Offensively, the two are 1-2 in the conference, although Bentley's 77.3 average is more than six points higher than the Skyhawks' standard. Coach Barbara Stevens' Falcons rank in the top ten in Division II in scoring margin, rebound margin and assists per game, and top the NE10 in three-pointers (8.2) and three-point accuracy (.360).

There will be no shortage of experience on the floor Wednesday. Stevens, who earned win number 1,002 on Saturday at Pace (72-66), starts a grad student and three seniors, and has another senior as part of her 11-deep rotation. Meanwhile, Stonehill's Trisha Brown has six seniors on her roster, including four who have started every game.

Bentley's top scorer is the only member of Stevens' usual five not in her final season of eligibility, junior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy). She scored 20 at Pace and is now averaging 14.1 points and 9.8 rebounds.

The backcourt of Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School), Becca Musgrove (Plainview, N.Y./St. Anthony's HS) and Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) have all played key roles in the team's success this season. Musgrove is coming off a season-best 20 points at Pace and is averaging 11.6 points and 2.15 steals. Green (10.9 ppg) is the third most prolific and sixth most accurate three-point shooter in Bentley history. Smith (7.6 ppg) ranks fourth in Division II in assist-turnover ratio with a margin of better than 3-1 (77 assists, 25 turns).

Stonehill is led by senior guard Kelly Martin, who missed all of last season following a preseason injury. She gives the Skyhawks 15.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists a game. Senior forward Samantha Hyslip is also having a productive season, averaging 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds.

In the first meeting this season, Bentley started fast, outscoring Stonehill 23-9 in the opening quarter. After the Skyhawks twice took a one-point lead in the fourth, the Falcons regained control with a 26-14 run over the final 6:40.

Lux powered Bentley with 24 points and 21 rebounds, and Musgrove followed with 19 points. Stonehill, limited to 33 percent shooting, was led by Martin's 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

After facing Stonehill, Bentley will be home to host Assumption on Saturday.