BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Sophomore forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) tied her career-high of 31 points, set just last Sunday, and claimed 13 rebounds as Bentley University closed out 2014 with a 76-62 win over the University of Bridgeport in non-conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Harvey Hubbell Gymnasium.
Gemma's 31, which included 17 in the opening half, matched the high scoring performance achieved in the Northeast-10 Conference this season and marked her third 30-point effort of the season. The reigning NE-10 Player of the Week hit half of her 24 shots and also converted six of seven from the free throw stripe. In addition to her eighth double-double in 11 games, she also blocked three shots.
An early 11-3 spurt that included scoring from five different players propelled Bentley to a 13-5 advantage less than six minutes into the game. Nine of those first 13 points came off Purple Knight turnovers.
A Gemma-led 9-2 run extended the lead to 29-16 with 5:37 on the first-half clock, and the Falcons held a 17-point lead three times before heading into the halftime break up 15, 42-27.
After the Purple Knights (1-9) closed to within ten, 54-44, with a little more than 12 minutes to play, Gemma ran off seven unanswered to make it 61-44 with 10:33 on the second-half clock. She dropped in a three-ball from the right of center, made two free throws and scored on a put-back after one of her six offensive boards.
Later in the second, with the lead still at 17, Bentley failed to score on nine of ten possessions with four turns and five missed lay-ups. That dry spell led to a 11-2 Purple Knight run that reduced the Falcon advantage to eight, 65-57.
After a Bridgeport timeout with 1:23 left, Bentley freshman guard Kristin Brown (Poulsbo, Wash./ North Kitsap HS) scored on a break-away after a long entry pass from senior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero-North Syracuse HS). That began a game-clinching 9-0 run that also included two free throws apiece by Brown and Mattice, and a three-ball from freshman guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS).
Mattice, who played all 40 minutes at the point in the absence of injured freshman Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School), filled the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists while committing only three turnovers. Her day included a three-for-six effort from three-point land.
Green and senior forward Carlene Kluge (Reading, Mass./Reading HS) each had eight points and three assists for the Falcons, with Kluge also grabbing five rebounds. Freshman forward Trevena Bennett (Union, N.J./Gill St. Bernard's School) helped out with eight rebounds and six assists.
Bridgeport received a major effort off the bench from senior guard Tiara Aziz (Easton, Pa.) as she erupted for 26 points, including 10 of 11 from the foul line.
Bentley, the defending NCAA Division II national champions, outshot the home team, 44-35 percent, and dominated the boards, 52-30, including 19-10 at the offensive end. Turnovers were costly with the Falcons losing the ball 13 times in the second half after only five before intermission.
Bentley, 6-5 following its second straight win, will open the 2015 portion of the schedule Jan. 3 against Saint Anselm, the first of three home games in a five-day span.