WORCESTER, Mass. – Junior point guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) scored 16 points, including 11 during a game-ending 14-5 run, and senior All-America forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) collected 16 rebounds, bringing her career total to 998, as Bentley University stretched its winning streak to seven with a 73-59 victory over Assumption College in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at Laska Gym.
With the victory in coach Barbara Stevens' 1,000th Bentley game, the 19th-ranked team in Division II clinched a tie for the NE10 Northeast Division championship. Bentley improved to 19-4 overall and 15-1 conference, good for a five-game lead over Saint Anselm with five to play.
In a first half that saw a dozen lead changes, Bentley took a 35-31 lead into the halftime locker room, due in large part to a strong effort from the bench. The Falcon reserves combined for 13 points, including six apiece from sophomore guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) and graduate center Melina Kollia (Athens, Greece).
A late 9-2 run, ignited by McConnell's second triple of the half and four points by Gemma, produced Bentley's biggest lead of the first 20 minutes, 35-28. Assumption senior guard Allison Stoddard (East Lyme, Conn.) brought her team back to within four when she drained a three with three seconds left in the half.
Bentley started the third in strong fashion, scoring the first ten points to open a 45-31 lead. Four different Falcons contributed points, including Gemma with a pair of lay-ups.
After McConnell opened the fourth with a three-ball from the left corner, the Greyhounds battled back with a 12-2 run that cut the Falcon advantage to five, 59-54 with 6:23 to play.
It stayed that way for a couple minutes, until Smith beat the shot clock with the Falcons' ninth three-pointer of the game. That restored the lead to eight and began a game-ending 14-5 run that also saw Smith provide six free throws and a driving lay-up.
Smith missed only one shot all afternoon as she finished three of four overall, two of two from deep and eight of eight at the foul stripe. Green knocked down three triples on her way to 14 points and Gemma, in addition to 16 boards, provided 12 points, four assists and two steals.
Bentley also received nine from McConnell, eight points and 12 rebounds from sophomore post Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) and seven points from Kollia.
Senior forward Jo Impellizeri (Seaford, N.Y.) had an impressive game for Assumption (14-7, 9-7 NE10) as she made 10 of 14 shots and finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Assumption slightly outshot the visiting Falcons, 43-42 percent, but Bentley had the edge in most other categories, including threes (9-6), free throws (18-7), rebounds (36-30), turnovers (13-17), points off turns (18-13) and bench points (18-4).
Bentley will be back home on Wednesday, hosting Southern New Hampshire at 5:30 pm.