WALTHAM, Mass. – A 66-55 loss at Southern New Hampshire University Wednesday was the second in the last three games for the No. 7-ranked Bentley University women's basketball team, matching its number of losses in its previous 37 regular season Northeast-10 Conference games.
Coach Barbara Stevens' team, still an impressive 20-3 overall even though its hopes of a third consecutive regular season division title are not looking good, will look to regroup over the final four regular season games, beginning Saturday afternoon with a 1:30 pm contest at Saint Anselm College (webcast: www.saintanselmhawks.tv).
The Falcons' unprecedented second loss of the season to Southern New Hampshire dropped Bentley to 14-3 in conference, two games back of pace-setting Stonehill. The Falcons and Skyhawks each play Saint Anselm, Merrimack and Franklin Pierce over the next week-and-a-half with Bentley's schedule also including St. Michael's and Stonehill's including Assumption.
Saint Anselm comes into the weekend in a tie for third in the Northeast Division standings after winning four in a row to improve to 15-9 overall and 11-6 conference. The Hawks have been outstanding in their own Stoutenburgh Gym, winning nine of ten with the only loss coming to Adelphi.
At SNHU, Bentley had its second poorest shooting night of the season with the Falcons finishing at .354 overall, including just 5 of 21 from three. The 55 points was more than 20 below the team's conference-leading 76.3 point-per-game norm.
Three Falcons – graduate guard Becca Musgrove (Plainview, N.Y./St. Anthony's HS), senior guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) and sophomore forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS) – carried the Bentley offense Wednesday. They combined for 36 points on 15 of 28 shooting while the rest of the team misfired on 8 of 37 shot attempts.
Musgrove, who had 13 points and five steals, is second on the team in scoring at 12.0, trailing only junior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy), who is at 13.8. Third in the NE10 in steals, the Brown transfer is the only NE10 player averaging at least 10 points and two steals.
Bentley's third double-figure scorer is senior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) at 10.1. Her 229 career three-pointers is the third highest total in program history. Viapiano, number two in the NE10 in field goal percentage (.559), and Smith, Bentley's leader in assists (84), are next on the Falcons' scoring list, at 8.0 and 7.5, respectively.
Six-foot-four Boston College transfer Shannon Ryan has been having a standout season for Saint Anselm with her scoring average (18.3) third in the NE10 and her rebound average (10.8) first. Over her last four games, she's put up 22, 21 and 19 points.
Next on the Hawks' scoring list are a pair of senior guards, Ali Glennon at 8.9 and Clairee Putnam at 8.8.
While Bentley scores over 76 per game on average, Saint Anselm hasn't given up that many since the calendar changed to 2018. During the current streak which includes wins over Saint Rose, Franklin Pierce, Merrimack and Assumption, the Hawks have limited the opposition to 56 per contest.
In the earlier meeting between the two teams, Lux had a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double and Green drilled four triples as Bentley rolled, 77-52. The Hawks were held to 27 percent shooting, including just 2 of 21 from deep.
Next week, Bentley will play its final two home games of the season, Wednesday against St. Michael's and Saturday against Merrimack. The latter will be both Senior Day and the Falcons' annual "Pink Day".