WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) registered her third straight double-double, finishing with 21 points and 13 rebounds, and freshman guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals and three blocks as Bentley University rallied for a 69-53 win over the University of Bridgeport in non-conference women's basketball Wednesday at the Dana Center.
Bentley, which trailed by as many as 17 early in the second quarter, improved to 10-2 overall and finished 2015 with a four-game winning streak. Bridgeport fell to 4-8 on the season.
After grabbing a 7-4 lead midway through the opening quarter, the Falcons went scoreless for a six-minute span, a drought that carried into the second period.
The Purple Knights were able to capitalize on the dry spell, scoring 20 unanswered points to open a 24-7 lead 34 seconds into the second. Included during that run were five points apiece by junior Louise Ovner (Vallentuna, Sweden) and freshman Kadijah Dickson (Queens, N.Y.).
Bentley finally got the seven off its side of the scoreboard when Gemma hit a lay-up with 9:13 left in the second. That began a 12-2 Falcon run and launched a 15-point quarter for Gemma, a school record in the first year that women's basketball has switched from halves.
After Bridgeport answered the Falcon spurt with a pair of three-pointers, Bentley blanked the visitors over the final 5:20 of the half. Gemma scored eight during a 10-0 burst that cut the deficit to three at the break, 32-29.
Bentley was still down two with under four minutes left in the third when Lewis drained a three-ball from the right wing. That put Bentley in front for good, 39-38, and started a 13-0 explosion that made it a 49-38 Falcon advantage after three. The run also included threes from sophomore guards Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) and Lauren Green Damascus, Md./ Damascus HS).
Any hopes Bridgeport had of a fourth-quarter comeback were dashed with a 9-3 Bentley run that made it a 15-point game, 63-48, with a little more than a minute to play. Sophomore forward Cassie Smith (Edison, N.J./Metuchen HS) was instrumental by taking a charge and scoring three points.
Gemma hit half of her 18 shots and also gave the Falcons two blocks and two assists. Lewis, very active all over the court throughout, set career-bests in assists, blocks and minutes while playing all but three, and Bentley also received 11 points from Green. Both Smiths added seven points, helping the Falcons to a 19-8 advantage in bench scoring.
Bentley outshot the visitors 44-34 percent, including 51-30 percent over the final three quarters, and forced 24 turnovers, which were converted into 24 points. The Falcons also outscored the Knights 11-2 at the line, most of that coming down the stretch, but were outrebounded by three, 40-37.
Coach Barbara Stevens' team will also be at home on Saturday when it launches the new year and a string of 15 straight games against Northeast-10 opponents by hosting 8-4 Stonehill College (1:30 pm).