WALTHAM, Mass. – With six games left in the regular season, the Bentley University women's basketball team trails Saint Anselm College, the current number five team, by two games in the battle for the final berth in the Northeast-10 Conference championship tournament.
The two teams meet Saturday at 1:30 pm at Saint Anselm's Stoutenburgh Gymnasium, and by the time the final horn sounds, they'll be separated by either one game or by three, a major difference with the season quickly winding down.
Bentley will head to Manchester with records of 8-13 overall and 3-12 in the conference after dropping a 73-61 decision to Assumption on Wednesday. The Hounds used 22 steals to offset the Falcons' best shooting performance since mid-December, .469.
Saint Anselm, 6-13 overall and 5-10 NE-10, has won three of its last five, including a 78-64 victory at crosstown rival Southern New Hampshire on Thursday. In that one, the Hawks shot 54 percent with the duo of Candace Andrews and Caitlyn Abela combining for 43 points.
Sophomore forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) has been a bright spot for the Falcons, with her 19.6 scoring average the best in the NE-10. Le Moyne's Alex Marple is next on the list, trailing the Bentley six-footer by about a point-and-a-half.
Gemma, a four-time NE-10 Spalding Player of the Week honoree, has put up 76 points in the last three games and has shot 58 percent over the last five to raise her season field goal percentage to .505. She continues to average a double-double with her rebounding norm at 10.2.
Freshman guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) is the Falcons' other double-digit scorer, although her shooting prowess has tailed off in recent weeks. She's averaged 12.7 points in conference play, 11.0 overall and her rookie year has featured a pair of 8-for-11 efforts, including the last time Bentley and Saint Anselm met, back on Jan. 3.
Senior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) has given the Falcons 10.8 points a game over the last five contests, raising her season average to 7.3.
No one in the Northeast-10 has taken or made as many threes as Abela, a Sacred Heart transfer who leads Saint Anselm with a 14.8 scoring average. She's nailed at least one in every game while knocking down a total of 59, and has scored 22 points three times in her last five contests.
Andrews, who missed the first Bentley game due to injury, follows with a 13.5 average. Her splits are interesting as her road performance (18.0 ppg, .467 fg) is significantly better than her home (10.6, .313). She's been a factor in all of the Hawks' wins, averaging 17 with a .421 field goal percentage, as compared to 10.5 in the losses.
Other weapons for Saint Anselm include junior guard Raquel Johnson and Johnson C. Smith transfer Kaila Duarte. Johnson scores 11.2 a game and Duarte is one of the NE-10's top rebounder at 10.1 per.
In the Jan. 3 meeting at Bentley, Green shot the Falcons to a 66-51 victory with the Hawks held to a .286 shooting percentage. The victors shot .500 from beyond the arc with Green and junior guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) combining to make nine of the team's 11.
Next week, Bentley will play at Merrimack College Tuesday night before returning to host St. Michael's in a nationally-televised (CBS Sports Network) next Saturday.