WALTHAM, Mass. – The two hottest teams in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball have been the Bentley University Falcons and The College of Saint Rose Golden Knights. Bentley has won nine of its last ten and Saint Rose has done one better with 10 wins in its last 11.
The two teams will meet for the only time during the regular season Wednesday night when Bentley hosts the Golden Knights in the Falcons' first home game in two weeks. Tip-off at the Dana Center is set for 5:30 pm with a free webcast available at www.bentleyfalcons.tv for those who can't attend.
Both teams began the week in first place in their respective divisions. Bentley (15-3, 9-3 NE-10) had a one-game lead over Assumption in the Northeast Division while Saint Rose (14-5, 8-4) was even with American International, which has lost four straight, at the top of the Southwest Division. The Bentley-Saint Rose is the only NE-10 game Wednesday night with the other teams playing tonight.
Bentley, which remained 13th in his week's D2SIDA Division II media poll, own the NE-10's best overall record and will be looking to become the first conference team to amass 10 NE-10 wins this season. Since a 65-59 loss to Adelphi two weeks ago in the last home game, coach Barbara Stevens' team has registered road wins at American International, Pace and Le Moyne by an average of 10.3 points.
After three straight games with 13 or less, All-Conference junior forward Jen Gemma (Milton/ Fontbonne Academy) returned to form for the Falcons out at Le Moyne Saturday in a 64-54 win. She had her 12th double-double (fourth best nationally) with 26 points and 12 rebounds while posting her best shooting effort (9-15) since November.
Gemma, who carried the Falcons by scoring all 17 of her team's first quarter points, returns home with averages of 19.3 points, best in the NE-10, and 10.3 rebounds, number two. During Saturday's game, she became the eighth Bentley player to reach the 1,200-point threshold before her senior year.
Stevens has gone with the same starting five in each of the team's 18 games with Gemma joined by senior Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS), sophomore Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./ Damascus HS) and a pair of freshmen, Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) and Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy).
Green has been the NE-10's most accurate three-point shooter (.466 with 34 made) and is averaging just under 11 a game. Lewis has had a steal in 17 straight games and has scored 13 a game in the team's last seven.
Off the bench, sophomore guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) has averaged 9.8 points and shot 9 of 16 from distance in the last five games, and freshman guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) made five of ten threes in the last three contests.
While Bentley has the most prolific offense in the NE-10 (70.0 ppg), Saint Rose sports one of the stingiest defenses in the conference. The Golden Knights, whose only loss in the last six weeks was a two-pointer at Franklin Pierce, have allowed only 53 points a game over the last 11. For the season, their opponents have shot only .357 overall, .289 from three and .611 at the line.
Senior guard Keyontae Williams and junior guard Taylor Nazon share the team-lead in scoring for Saint Rose with both averaging 12.3 points and 4.1 rebounds. Nazon is a threat from deep as she's shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc.
Six-one junior Staci Bennett is the team's other double-figure scorer (11.5) and the team's top rebounder (7.2 a game). Forward Karissa Birthwright is having a solid freshman season as she leads the club in field goal percentage (.537) and is scoring 8.6 a game.
Bentley will also be at home Saturday afternoon, hosting Southern Connecticut State in the final inter-conference game of the year.