WALTHAM, Mass. – The Bentley University women's basketball team will look to take another step towards a Northeast-10 Conference divisional title Saturday when it visits Franklin Pierce University for a 1:30 pm contest. A link to the webcast (pay) will be available at www.bentleyfalcons.com.
With the regular season down to four games, Bentley is two up on Saint Anselm College in the Northeast Division. The Falcons (20-3, 14-3 NE-10) will take an eight-game streak into their meeting against the Ravens while Saint Anselm (16-6, 12-5) will be looking to make it ten in a row when it plays at St. Michael's.
While Bentley has won 14 of its last 15, Franklin Pierce is in the midst of an up-and-down season. The Ravens (12-10, 9-8) rebounded from a 2-5 start to win seven in a row but are just 3-5 in their last eight with two of the losses coming in overtime.
Bentley junior forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) is making a strong case for NE-10 Player of the Year consideration. She's leading the conference in scoring (19.7) for the second straight season and is second in rebounding at 10.0 a game. Gemma had her 13th double-double of the year in at Southern New Hampshire Wednesday when she finished with 31 points (tying her career-high) and 13 rebounds in a 60-56 win.
Guards Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) and Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) follow on the scoring list with scoring averages of 10.4 and 8.9, respectively. Green is one of the NE-10's top three-point shooters (41-94, .436) while Lewis leads the team in steals (48) and assists (65).
Coach Barbara Stevens, two wins away from 950 for her career, has been able to go with the same starting five all season with the above three joined by freshman forward Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) and senior guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS).
The bench produces nearly 17 points a game with guards Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./ Windward School) and Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) currently the top scorers with averages of 4.3 and 3.3, respectively. McConnell nailed two threes in the SNHU game and is now shooting .556 from long range (20-36).
In addition to closing in on a division title, Bentley is also nearing the 1,000th win in Bentley history with the SNHU win on Wednesday number 997. It's a milestone no Division II women's basketball program has achieved.
Franklin Pierce is led by senior forward Kara Charette, whose 1,822 career points is second most among active Division II players. Her career free throw numbers, 589 of 745, are the second most made and attempted nationally among current players, regardless of division.
This season, Charette is averaging 16.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 49 percent overall and 78 percent from the line. Senior guard Natalie Bastian is the other Raven among the NE-10's top ten scorers, coming into Saturday at 13.8 with the conference's second most three-pointers (51).
Franklin Pierce is one of the top shooting teams in the conference, rankings third in field goal and free throw accuracy, and fourth in shooting the three. However, they are 13th in scoring defense and 12th in defending the three.
Next week, Bentley will be home against St. Michael's Wednesday and at Saint Anselm Saturday.