MANCHESTER, N.H. – Freshman guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) scored seven of her team-leading 22 points in overtime and four other Falcons joined her in double figures as Bentley University overcame an early 17-point deficit to prevail 91-82 over Saint Anselm College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Stoutenburgh Gymnasium.
Senior forward Carlene Kluge (Reading, Mass./Reading HS) and sophomore forward Brittany Gregory (Fish Kill, N.Y./John Jay HS) both established new career scoring highs for Bentley in the win. Kluge was a perfect 8-of-8 from the field for 16 points and Gregory came off the bench to score 15.
The win gave a major boost to Bentley's hopes of a berth in the conference championship tournament. While a loss would have dropped the Falcons three games out of the fifth spot with five to play, the victory moved coach Barbara Stevens' team into a three-way tie for sixth, just one back of fifth-place Saint Anselm (8-14, 5-11 NE-10).
After squandering a chance to score the winning basket on their final possession, Bentley struck for 15 in the extra session, doing most of the damage at the foul stripe where they were 12 of 13.
With the score even at 78 more than two-and-a-half minutes into the OT, Green buried her fifth triple of the game, this one from the right wing to put the visitors in front to stay. She made two free throws with 1:18 to play, senior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y/Cicero North Syracuse HS) sank the first of two with 54.9 seconds left, and freshman guard Kristin Brown (Poulsbo, Wash./North Kitsap HS) hit the second of two with 42.8 on the clock.
After Saint Anselm sophomore guard Candace Andrews (Boston, Mass.) sandwiched two lay-ups around a pair of Mattice free throws, Bentley locked up the win with two free throws apiece by sophomore forward Jen Gemma (Milton, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) and Mattice in the final 22 seconds.
Bentley went into the halftime locker room down 39-38, the third time the Falcons closed to within one after being down by as many as 17 points early. It was 23-10 closing run, a spurt launched by a rare four-point play from Green with 8:44 left on the first-half clock.
Grregory led Bentley in the opening half, coming off the bench to contribute 10 points in 13 minutes. Green followed with nine and Gemma was closing in on a double-double with eight points and a like number of rebounds.
It was a run of 17 straight points that gave Saint Anselm a 21-4 lead seven minutes into the game. The Hawks hit 10 of their first 16 with sophomore guards Candace Andrews (Boston, Mass.) and Caitlyn Abela (North Easton, Mass.) key contributors. Andrews, who finished the first half with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting, had five baskets during that six-minute stretch and Abela connected twice from three-point land.
Bentley's momentum from the final minutes of the first carried over to the second with Kluge leading a 9-2 spurt that put the Falcons up six with 17:16 to play. Saint Anselm battled back with it remaining primarily a two-possession game until baskets by Kluge and Gregory made it 70-60 with 5:27 left.
Abela sparked a Saint Anselm comeback, hitting three triples in 84 seconds to make it a 72-69 game. Andrews, after a steal, brought her team within two with a pair of free throws with 1:09 to play and evened the contest with two more from the stripe with 34.5 to play. A Falcon shot just as the shot clock was about to expire was rejected by Abela, Saint Anselm taking possession on a 30-second clock violation with 2.2 seconds. A desperation heave fell way short, forcing the OT.
Green knocked down five of eight triples, the fourth time this year she's had a handful from downtown, and complemented the second highest scoring performance of her career with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Gregory achieved her 15 by making five of eight overall and all five of her free throws.
Gemma and junior guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) were also in double figures for Bentley (9-13, 4-12 NE-10), and Mattice was just a point away from making it six after scoring six of her nine in the extra period. Gemma recorded her 11th double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and White sank three triples during a 10-point performance.
Andrews had a huge game for Saint Anselm (8-14, 5-11 NE-10), putting up 34 points, six rebounds and five assists while attempting 27 shots and eight free throws. Abela had a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double, and the Hawks also received a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) from sophomore Kaila Duarte (Dorchester, Mass.).
The biggest stat differential came in free throws with Bentley knocking down 25 of 29 and the Hawks 14 of 19. Field goal percentage, rebounds and turnovers were all about the same and the Falcons had an 8-6 advantage in three-pointers.
Bentley will be back on the road Tuesday for a 5:30 contest at Merrimack College.