Lewis, Gemma & Green Combine for 56 as Bentley Moves Into 1st with 84-72 Win

Macchi Smith
Macchi Smith

WEST HAVEN, Conn. – Freshman guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) scored a career-high 20 points, including six free throws in the final 90 seconds, and junior forward Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) recorded her fifth straight double-double, finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds, as Bentley University topped the University of New Haven, 84-72, in Northeast-10  Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Charger Gym.

The victory, the Falcons' sixth straight, lifted Bentley into first place in the NE-10's Northeast Division with the visitors improving to 12-2 overall and 6-2 NE-10. New Haven fell to 6-8 overall and 2-6 in conference play.

The game's seventh and final lead change came when Lewis finished a fast break with 2:32 left in the opening quarter, breaking a 15-15 tie. That was part of a 10-2 run that put the Falcons up 23-17 following the opening 10 minutes. Sophomore guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School), playing her best game since injuring her knee nearly 13 months ago, tallied the final four points of the run.

Bentley, number 25 in the D2SIDA media poll, stretched the lead to 10, 30-20, with a 7-3 spurt to start the second, a run that included a corner three from Lewis.  The Falcons were still up eight, 40-32, with 1:41 left in the opening half, but by the time the third quarter was a minute old, the game was even at 40 as the Chargers scored eight unanswered around the break.

The Falcons responded by scoring the game's next six and maintained the lead the rest of the way, although New Haven kept battling to keep it close. Gemma, who came within a rebound of a third-quarter double-double, scored the first three of the run with a free throw and a put-back.

The 11-point, nine-rebound quarter by Gemma, coupled with New Haven missing nine of 15 free throws in the third, enabled Bentley to take a game-high 13-point lead into the fourth, 64-51. New Haven wouldn't go away, scoring the first nine of the final quarter to reduce the Falcon advantage to four, 64-60 with 8:17 left.

Smith nailed a triple from the left wing, Gemma scored inside and quickly the lead was back to nine. After the Chargers got back within five, a Lewis lay-up and a Gemma second-chance basket made it 75-66 with 4:10 remaining. Lewis locked up the victory by making six of six from the line in the final 1:28, doubling the Bentley lead to 12, 82-70.

Lewis, in addition to a career-high point total, put together a stat line that included six assists, three rebounds, a steal, a rebound and no turnovers. She made five of nine overall, sank two of her three triples and finished eight of ten from the line.

Gemma struggled from the floor (7-24) but still filled the stat sheet with three blocks and ten offensive rebounds. Sophomore guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) followed with 17 points, three assists and three steals, and Smith finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists. She didn't miss a shot, making a pair of three-pointers, two inside the arc and two from the line.

New Haven was led by a pair of seniors, Briana Bradford (Waterbury, Conn.) and Lauren Hebert (North Reading, Mass.). Bradford had 25 points, Hebert followed with 21, both had five rebounds and they combined for five steals.

New Haven shot slightly better, 43-42 percent, and had the rebounding edge, 43-39, but Bentley was superior from the line (23 of 27 as compared to 14 of 26) and took better care of the ball. The Falcons scored 27 points off 16 UNH turnovers and lost it only nine points (for nine Charger points).

Bentley will look to make it seven straight when it hosts Adelphi University Wednesday at 5:30.