WALTHAM, Mass. – After getting back on track with a 68-57 win over Pace University Saturday, the Bentley University women's basketball team will be looking to string together consecutive victories for the first time in a month when it hosts Assumption College Wednesday at the Dana Center. Game time is 5:30 pm.
The win over the Setters was a bright spot in a 2-7 January for the defending NCAA Division II national champions, who now begin the month of February with records of 8-12 overall and 3-11 NE-10. With seven games left, the Falcons are still in the hunt for a berth in the conference championship tournament, trailing both Southern New Hampshire and Saint Anselm, who are currently tied for fifth, by one game.
Assumption will come into the Dana Center at 11-8 overall and 6-8 in the NE-10 after dropping three in a row and six of its last seven. The Greyhounds were held to less than 60 points in five of the last seven and they have shot only 35 percent over the last three.
Bentley features six-foot sophomore Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy), who has established herself as one of the conference's top offensive threats in her first season as a starter. On Monday, she was recognized as the NE-10 Spalding Player of the Week for the fourth time this season.
Gemma averaged 25.5 points last week, including a 29-point, 12-rebound double-double in the Pace victory, to regain the NE-10 lead in scoring at 19.3. That's a scoring level that no Bentley player has achieved for a full season in the program's storied history.
Gemma, who has ten double-doubles, also leads the Falcons in rebounding with her 10.5 average third best in the NE-10.
Guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS), the only other Bentley player to start all 20 games, is the highest scoring freshman in the conference, putting up 11.5 a game. She's scored in doubles in three straight games, the third time this season she's achieved that feat, and is the team's top three-point threat (33-86, .384).
The remainder of the starting lineup that Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Barbara Stevens has used in recent games includes sophomore forward Brittany Gregory (Fishkill, N.Y./John Jay HS) and senior guards Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) and Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS). Mattice has averaged nearly 11 points the last four games, Gregory has had six or more rebounds in four of the last six contests, and White is coming off an eight-point, five-assist performance.
Assumption, which has been without 10-point-a-game scorer Jo Impellizeri since early December, has a pair of double-figure scorers. At the top of the list is the Hounds' point guard, Kelly Conley, who erupted for 35 points two weeks ago in an 89-87 upset of nationally-ranked Adelphi. Overall, she is averaging 13.6 points and 2.3 assists.
Senior forward Caitlin Ackerman follows at 10.8 ppg and is the team's top rebounder at 7.1 a game. Assumption also counts upon sophomore guards Kelly Carey and Allison Stoddard for scoring with both averaging a little more than eight a game.
Bentley will be looking to avenge a Nov. 19 65-62 loss to the Hounds, a defeat that ended the program's school-record 37-game winning streak. The Falcons placed five in double figures and received a career-best 23 rebounds from Gemma, but could never completely catch the Hounds after falling behind by as many as 13.
After facing Assumption, Bentley will be on the road for a pair, Saturday at Saint Anselm and Tuesday at Merrimack.