WALTHAM, Mass. – The 101st chapter of one of the premier rivalries in Division II women's basketball will be written Saturday when the 10-2 Bentley University Falcons host Stonehill College in the first Bentley athletic event of 2016. Tip-off at the Dana Center is set for 1:30 pm with a free webcast available at www.bentleyfalcons.tv for those who can't attend.
Both teams are chasing Assumption College in the Northeast-10 Conference's Northeast Division standings. Bentley, 10-2 overall and 4-2 NE-10, is a game back of the Greyhounds, who are at Merrimack College Saturday. Stonehill, with records of 8-4 and 3-3, is two off the pace in fourth place. They each tuned up for Saturday's contest with non-conference wins on Wednesday, the Falcons 69-53 over Bridgeport and the Skyhawks 56-31 over Bloomfield.
Bentley junior forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy), the NE-10's top scorer for the second straight year, scored 20 points 15 times during the 2015 calendar year. She's had five double-doubles in her last six games, including a 21-point, 13-rebound effort in Wednesday's win, and is currently averaging 20.4 points and 10.8 rebounds.
Gemma surpassed 1,100 career points in the Bridgeport game and needs 61 points to move into the top 20 in program history.
Freshman guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England), Bentley's leader in assists (37) and steals (23), is coming off an impressive all-around effort against Bridgeport. She achieved career-bests in assists (7) and blocks (3) while also providing 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
The Falcons have been the top three-point shooting team in the conference so far this season with sophomore guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) a major reason as she's shooting nearly 50 percent from deep (24-49). The playing time for freshman Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) has been limited (11.5 minutes per game) but she has been impressive with the long ball, knocking down 12 of 18.
Stonehill has held its last four opponents below 60 with Bloomfield limited to a .241 field goal percentage on Wednesday. The Skyhawks also struggled offensively in their first game in 12 days, shooting only 33 percent and putting up their second lowest point total against a Deacon team that entered the contest at 9-3.
Guards Paige Marshall and Kelly Martin are both scoring 14.8 points a game for the Skyhawks with Marshall having one more point and Martin one more assist, 45-44. Marshall has been sizzling from three (18-30, 60 percent) while Martin is also the team's top rebounder (5.6) and leader in steals (20).
Forward Marty Diabate has had a productive freshman season off the bench (9.8 points, .545 shooting), and sophomore Samantha Hyslip has been solid in a starting role, averaging 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Bentley leads the all-time series with Stonehill, 63-37, but was swept in the two meetings last year, giving up an average of 83 points to a Skyhawk team that came up one point shy in the NCAA East Regional final. The Falcons won three times against the Skyhawks during their 2014 undefeated national championship, including a 79-63 decision in the East Regional semifnals.
After taking on Stonehill, the Bentley schedule includes seven straight against Southwest Division opponents, starting next Saturday, Jan. 9, at New Haven (3:30 pm).