WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore forward and conference scoring leader Jen Gemma (Milton/ Fontbonne Academy) powered her way to 29 points and 12 rebounds as Bentley University got back on the winning track with a 68-57 win over Pace University in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Bentley, which led by 13 after a strong start to the second half, saw the visitors get as close as one three times, the last at 50-49 with 6:25 on the clock.
Gemma, who scored 16 of her points after intermission, took over from that point, scoring six during a run of eight unanswered that made it 58-49 with 3:52 to play. She started the run with a put-back, scored on a driving lay-up, and after two free throws from senior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS)¸ hit another inside basket.
Bentley (8-12, 3-11 NE-10) secured coach Barbara Stevens' 925th career win by sinking five of six free throws in the final 52 seconds, including three of four by Mattice. Charity tosses were a major factor in the game with the Falcons making 16 of 19 and the Setters attempting only ten, making but four.
The Falcons headed to the locker room at the break up 30-27, enjoying their first halftime lead since Jan. 3 after outscoring the Setters 15-6 over the final seven minutes.
Nine of those points were scored by Gemma, who also took a charge at the defensive end. With Bentley facing a six-point deficit, she got it started with a three-point play the old-fashioned way, launching a string of nine unanswered for the Falcons.
Twice in the final 2:30 of the first, a Gemma lay-up gave Bentley back the lead, and the spread hit three when freshman forward Cassie Smith (Edison, N.J./Metuchen HS) beat the halftime buzzer.
After scoring the final four of the opening half, Bentley maintained the momentum when play resumed. Mattice opened with a three-pointer, Gemma sank two from the stripe, sophomore forward Brittany Gregory (Fishkill, N.Y./John Jay HS) converted a three-point play and Mattice made a lay-up. That extended the run to 14-0 and the Falcon advantage to 13 at 40-27.
The next six minutes belonged to the visitors as Pace put together a 16-4 run to make it a one-point game, 44-43, with 11:21 to play.
Gemma made 12 of 19 shots overall, was perfect on her five free throw attempts and also provided two blocks and two steals. Mattice and freshman guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./ Damascus HS) joined her in doubles, with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Junior guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) was also productive with eight points and five assists, and Gregory helped on the boards with seven.
Junior forward Yuni Sher (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) led four double-figure scorers for Pace (10-11, 5-9 NE-10), finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Bentley outshot the visitors, 44-40 percent, after hitting 50 percent of its second-half shots. Turnovers were even at 16, the Falcons had one more rebound (37-36) and Bentley was also more effective from three (4-14 to Pace's 3-19).
Bentley will remain at home to host Assumption College Wednesday at 5:30 pm.