No. 19 Bentley Cruises to 74-35 Win over Franklin Pierce for 9th Straight; Gemma: 20 Points

Monica Viapiano
Monica Viapiano

WALTHAM, Mass. – A game after becoming the first player in program history with 2,000 point and 1,000 rebounds, Bentley University senior All-America forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy) scored 20 points in only 22 minutes to lead her team to a convincing 74-35 win over Franklin Pierce University in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.

Bentley, ranked 19th in Division, improved to 21-4 overall and 17-1 conference with its ninth straight victory. The Falcons, who outscored the visitors by an astounding 42 in the paint (46-4), have already wrapped up the conference's Northeast Division title and one of the number one seeds in the upcoming NE10 championships. Meanwhile, Franklin Pierce fell to 2-21 overall (0-18 NE10) after being held to 12 second-half points and a .226 field goal percentage overall.

The Falcons came out strong to start the game, sparked by junior point guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School). She opened the scoring with a three from the right corner before providing the assists on a fast-break lay-up by Gemma and a triple from sophomore guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS), who had eight points (all in the opening quarter) and five assists in her first career start.

That produced an early 9-2 lead and Bentley rode 64 percent shooting to a 25-14 lead after one. Included was a 12-0 advantage in points in the paint.

Franklin Pierce won a low-scoring second quarter, 9-8, as both teams struggled at the offensive end. The exception was Falcon sophomore Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) with six points, six rebounds and a block.

Bentley rediscovered its offense during halftime, coming out of the break with ten straight points, half of those scored by Gemma with a driving lay-up to ignite the run and three free throws. It also included a Lux inside basket and a Smith three-ball.

The explosion grew to 22-2 and the lead to 55-25 before the Ravens scored the final basket of the quarter. The final 12 points of that run included four apiece by Gemma, Smith and graduate student Melina Kollia (Athens, Greece).

Bentley outscored Franklin Pierce 19-8 in the fourth, a quarter that featured freshman Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS). She scored all of her career-high 12 points in the quarter, hitting six of nine shots. The six-one forward also grabbed six boards and rejected three shots, and in the quarter, Viapiano had more points, rebounds and blocks than the entire Franklin Pierce team.

Gemma, who left the game for good midway through the third, reached 20 for the 13th time this season by making 8 of 14 overall. She also had seven rebounds.

Smith was Bentley's third double-figure scorer as she finished with 12 points, along with six rebounds, six assists and two steals. Lux became the first Falcon since 2014 to block five shots in a game and also had eight points and ten rebounds.

Bentley shot 45 percent overall and dominated the glass, 53-29 overall and 31-13 in the second half. The Falcons' 20 assists included six off the bench from junior guard Cassie Smith (Edison, N.J./ Metuchen HS).

Cameryn Wilson was the top scorer for Franklin Pierce, finishing with 13 points.

Bentley returns to action Wednesday night at St. Michael's (5:30 pm).