NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Junior All-Conference forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) posted her 17th career double-double (22 points, 12 rebounds) and senior guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS) hit a pair of key fourth-quarter three-pointers as Bentley University held off Merrimack College, 68-60, in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Wednesday night at Hammel Court.
Bentley improved to 3-0 overall while Merrimack fell for the second time in three games. It was the conference opener for both teams.
Bentley went into the break riding a 40-22 lead following a dominating performance in the paint (22 points on 11 of 12 shooting). Gemma led that inside power, scoring 12 points on six-of-eight shooting during the opening two quarters, including eight in the first four minutes.
That strong start to the first quarter (10-2 after four minutes) and a closing 9-1 run to the second accounted for most of the 18-point differential. Nine different players scored in a first half that saw the Falcons hit at a 57 percent clip, force 14 turnovers (including three on charges) and hold the Warriors to 35 percent shooting.
Any momentum the Falcons had going into the locker room stayed there when play resumed. The visitors missed their first eight shots of the third and finished the quarter with just six points, nine turnovers and a 15 percent shooting performance.
Bentley was scoreless over the final 4:20 with a 13-0 Merrimack run, capped by a buzzer-beating three from freshman guard Hannah Neid (Litchfield, N.H., cutting the lead to 46-41.
The Falcons also had a slow start to the fourth (0-3, 3 turns), allowing the Warriors to get to within one at 47-46 and again at 49-48.
White connected twice from deep in a minute span, the first pushing the lead to four at 52-48 and the second making it 57-51 with 4:48 to play. Both came from the left wing.
Sophomore guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) also had a big three for the Falcons with her triple from the right side producing a 62-56 lead with 2:43 left. Two free throws by both Gemma and White completed the game's scoring with 1:13 left, with Merrimack scoreless for the final 1:48.
Gemma was very effective inside, missing only one of her ten two-point attempts. White followed with 10 points and five rebounds, and Green helped with nine, all from outside the arc.
Junior guard My'Asia Alston (Cohoes, N.Y.) led Merrimack with 16 points, all but two coming in the second half, and senior guard Ashley Weissmann (Highland, Calif.) provided 12 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
Bentley, in its second wire-to-wire win of the season, shot 49 percent overall with seven three-pointers, but struggled at the line (missing nine of 20) and holding on to the ball (26 turnovers for 24 Warrior points). Merrimack shot 40 percent, attempted 11 fewer free throws and loss the ball 22 points (good for 18 Falcon points).
After opening the season with three on the road, Bentley will make its Dana Center debut Saturday afternoon with a 1:30 game against Franklin Pierce.