WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) put up her second 30-point effort of the season, finishing with a career-best 31 along with 12 rebounds, as Bentley University got back on the winning track with a 72-61 non-conference win over Holy Family University Sunday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Bentley, in its final home appearance until 2015, evened its record at 5-5 overall while snapping a pair of streaks. The Falcons had dropped three in a row while Holy Family (6-4) came in with a six-game winning streak.
Bentley, which led by as many as 18 (including 44-26), saw its advantage dwindle to four, 63-59, with 2:27 to go following a 14-3 run over a span of 6:06. Senior forward Sarah Pawlak (North Tonawanda, N.Y.) and junior post (Kasey Woetzel (Wyckoff, N.J.) combined for 10 of the 14 to get the Tigers as close as they had been since the nine- minute mark of the first half.
Following an exchange of turnovers, Bentley senior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) buried a three-ball from the right wing with 1:41 to play, just the second basket for the Falcons over a stretch of seven-plus minutes. That restored the Bentley lead to seven, 66-59, and began a game-clinching 9-0 run.
That spurt, which made it a 13-point game with 30 seconds left, also included a 12-foot jumper from freshman guard Kristin Brown (Poulsbo, Wash./ North Kitsap HS), two free throws by Gemma and two more by Mattice.
Holy Family took its final lead of the afternoon, 15-14, just before the midpoint of the first half when senior guard Reagan Jewell (Winooski, Vt.) hit a second-chance jumper in the paint, the first points by either team in 3:40.
Mattice countered with a three-pointer, beginning a 12-0 that put the Falcons up 11 at 26-15. Gemma and senior forward Carlene Kluge (Reading/Reading HS) each contributed four points during the burst.
Six straight points by Gemma stretched the lead to 16, 34-18, with 4:34 until the break, and the lead stood at ned 18 at intermission, 44-26. Gemma had a huge first half, scoring 20 on 8-of-9 shooting.
The lead was down to 11 four minutes into the second and was in single figures before six straight Bentley points (four by Gemma, two by Kluge) put the home team up 15, 60-45, with nine minutes left.
The lengthy dry spell, with only a Gemma top-of-the-key three with 5:36 left, over the next seven-plus minutes, allowed the Tigers to get back into the contest.
Gemma finished a sensational 12 of 14 from the floor and made both of her threes. Mattice followed with 15, and both Kluge and freshman Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) finished with seven points. Freshman point guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) had a game-high five assists, and sophomore forward Brittany Gregory (Fishkill, N.Y./John Jay HS) claimed eight rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
Junior guard Erin Fenningham (Philadelphia, Pa.) led Holy Family with 14 points in a turnover-filled contest. The two teams combined for 50, including 26 by the Falcons, but it was Bentley that did a better job taking advantage, finishing with a 21-14 edge in points off.
Bentley outshot the Tigers 51-36 percent overall and 50-24 percent from three, with a 6-4 bulge in threes made. The Falcons also doubled Holy Family at the line, hitting 14 of 18 to HFU's 7 of 9.
Bentley will conclude the 2015 portion of its schedule Saturday at the University of Bridgeport.