WALTHAM, Mass. – Following a pair of road games that saw mixed results last week, the Bentley University women's basketball team will be looking to close the regular season in a strong fashion while gaining momentum for the postseason.
Three regular season games remain for the 21-3 Falcons, beginning Wednesday night when coach Barbara Stevens' team, ranked 14th nationally in this week's WBCA Division II national coaches' poll, hosts St. Michael's College. Tip-off is at 5:30 pm with a free webcast at www.bentleyfalcons.tv for those who can't attend.
Bentley, which has clinched a first-round bye and will likely be the Northeast Division's number two seed in the fast-approaching conference championships, answered a mid-week loss at Southern New Hampshire with a hard-fought 65-60 win at Saint Anselm Saturday. The Falcons, who were up 16-4 at the start, saw a late 12-point lead shrivel to two with eight seconds left before pulling out the victory with three free throws and an offensive rebound by senior guard Trevena Bennett (Union, N.J./Gill St. Bernard School).
St. Michael's, eliminated from postseason consideration after dropping five of its last six, heads into the season's final three games with records of 8-15 overall and 5-13 NE10.
Graduate guard Becca Musgrove (Plainview, N.Y./St. Anthony's HS) has scored in doubles in a season-best six straight games, a stretch in which she's averaged 16 points to raise her season norm to 12.2, second to junior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy). Over the last six, Musgrove has shot 61 percent overall and 54 percent from three while also providing 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals a game.
Lux, who had 13 rebounds at Saint Anselm en route to her 11th double-double, tops the Falcons in both scoring (13.7) and rebounds (9.5). Senior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) is the team's other double-figure scorer at 10.1 with a .405 accuracy mark from three-point land.
The only other Falcon who plays more than 17 minutes a game is senior guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School), who has an outstanding assist-turnover ratio of 2.9 to 1, best in the NE10. Smith fills the stat sheet with 7.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals a game, a combination no other player in the conference can match.
Stevens, whose 1,004 wins is tied for fourth most in NCAA women's basketball history, generally spreads the minutes around with seven players playing between 11 and 17 minutes a game. That includes starting senior forward Cassie Smith (Metuchen, N.J./Edison HS), who collects 4.5 rebounds a game.
St. Michael's is led by six-two junior Samantha Delaney, who provides 13 points and eight rebounds a game. She is one of three Purple Knights who have started all 23 games, a list that also includes junior guard Emily Ferrari (9.8 ppg) and sophomore guard Brianna Purcell (8.6 ppg). Ferrari is second in the NE10 in steals (55) and Purcell is one of the leaders in assists (99).
The first meeting this season was all Bentley with the Falcons leading 26-7 after one and 49-14 at the half before prevailing 81-47. Lux came up big with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and sophomore forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS) pitched in with a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double off the bench.
Bentley will also be home on Saturday for a 12 noon Senior Day start against Merrimack. That will also be the team's Play4Kay game with the Falcons raising funds to benefit the fight against breast cancer.