WALTHAM, Mass. – After a difficult loss in Saturday's nationally-televised game and with only three games left in the regular season, the Bentley University women's basketball team has some major work to do if it is going to qualify for the Northeast-10 Conference championship tournament.
The Falcons will begin that task Wednesday when they host Southern New Hampshire at 5:30 pm in the final home game left on the schedule.
Five teams from the Northeast Division will qualify and both Bentley (10-14, 5-13 NE) and SNHU (11-14, 5-13 NE-10) are tied for sixth, along with Saint Anselm. All three are a game back of fifth-place St. Michael's, which would own the tiebreaker should it finish even with the Falcons.
Southern New Hampshire is in slightly better shape than Bentley as the Penmen still have to play St. Michael's. Bentley's remaining schedule after Wednesday has road games at the Northeast's top two teams, nationally-ranked Stonehill and second-place Franklin Pierce.
Bentley, which has managed just three wins in its first dozen home games this season, features sophomore forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy), whose 19.3 scoring average is on pace to break the school record of 18.9, set by Alison Fay in 1982.
The NE-10 scoring leader is also second in the conference in rebounding, averaging 10.7 after totaling 41 in the last three games. Her dozen double-doubles included 11 points and 11 rebounds in a 62-58 win at Southern New Hampshire back on Nov. 25.
Freshman guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) is Bentley's other double-figure scorer with her average standing at 11.3. She's boosted that to 12.3 in conference play with her three-point accuracy against NE-10 opponents an impressive .420.
Kristin Brown (Poulsbo, Wash./North Kitsap HS), another freshman guard, is coming off her most productive week as a collegian. She made seven of nine shots in the two games while averaging 8.5 points, including a career-best 10 Saturday against St. Michael's.
Over the last eight contests, senior guard Kelsey Mattice (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse HS) has provided 10.5 points a game. Included was a team-best 16 Saturday.
Southern New Hampshire will come into the Dana Center having lost six of its last seven, the lone exception being a double-overtime upset of Franklin Pierce Feb. 10. The Penmen have enjoyed most of their success at home where they are 7-6. In contrast, they've been 3-8 on the road while getting outscored by an average of 9.1 points.
Grad student Vic Wiseman has been the team's top player throughout the season despite only starting the last six games. She averages 12.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.6 assists overall, and since moving into the lineup, has boosted her scoring to nearly 16 a game.
Senior guard Brooke Springfield and sophomore guard Sara Ryan follow, each netting 9.1 points a game.
In the earlier meeting this season, Green scored 19 points and now-injured classmate Macchi Smith added with 17 as Bentley prevailed by four. Green's fifth three-pointer of the night stretched the Falcon lead to five with 37 seconds left and two free throws by Mattice 12 seconds later made it a three-possession game.
Saturday's game at Stonehill, the 100th meeting between the two programs, will start at 5 pm, a change from the original 1:30.