WALTHAM, Mass. – After opening the season with three road wins, the Bentley University women's basketball team will play their first home game of 2015-16 Saturday afternoon, hosting Franklin Pierce University in a 1:30 pm Northeast-10 Conference contest.
The Falcons head into their home opener owning wins over Holy Family, Philadelphia and Merrimack. Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coach Barbara Stevens' team has gotten off to strong starts in each, averaging 23 first quarter points and a nine-point lead following the first ten minutes. They've also been solid defensively in the second, giving up only 10 points on average.
Stevens, who recorded career win 931 at Merrimack Wednesday, has started the same lineup in all three with preseason All-America junior forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) joined by senior guard Jane White (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan HS), sophomore Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./ Damascus HS) and a pair of freshmen, Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) and Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy).
Gemma has picked up where she left off a year ago when she became the first Stevens-coached Bentley player to average a double-double. She's filling the stat sheet with 18 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game while shooting 62 percent overall and 80 percent at the line.
Green and Lewis follow at 8.7 ppg with the latter, the reigning NE-10 Spalding Rookie of the Week, also providing 6.3 rebounds and four assists a game. Lux is second on the team in rebounds (7.0) and third in assists (7), and White (6.7 ppg) had eight fourth-quarter points in the 68-60 win over Merrimack.
Off the bench, sophomore Trevena Bennett (Union, N.J./Gill St. Bernard HS) has averaged 8.3 points and knocked down 6 of 13 three-balls.
Bentley has shot nearly 50 percent overall, including nearly 44 percent from three, in its first three games while holding its opponents to 35 percent.
Franklin Pierce only has one game under its belt, a 68-53 win over St. Michael's on Wednesday. The Ravens, coming off a 19-11 season, will be the third 2015 NCAA tournament team the Falcons will face during the first eight games of the new campaign.
The Ravens feature All-Conference senior forward Kara Charette, who scored 17.5 points a game last year and is only 32 points away from the 1,500 milestone after netting 11 points in the opener.
Senior guard Natalie Bastian led FPU against the Purple Knights with 19 points, and six-foot junior Alison Palma just missed a double-double with 11 rebounds, nine points and four blocks.
For those who haven't seen women's basketball yet this year, there have been significant changes with a shift to four ten-minute quarters and the elimination of one-and-ones. Teams shoot two free throws beginning with the fifth foul of each quarter. In addition, in the final minute of the fourth and OT, there is the option to advance the ball to the frontcourt following a timeout by the team with the ball.
Next week's schedule has the Falcons taking on the Greyhounds twice, at Assumption Tuesday and home against Indianapolis Saturday afternoon.