WALTHAM, Mass. – Two away from a 30th 20-win season in Barbara Stevens' amazing 33 years at the helm, the Bentley University women's basketball team will be back in the Dana Center Saturday afternoon for a 1:30 pm encounter on Barbara Stevens Court with the Pace University Setters. As always, the game can be viewed on the NE10 Digital Network (www.NE10NOW.tv or www.bentleyfalcons.tv).
Bentley, idle since a 69-56 victory at Southern Connecticut State last Saturday, returns to the Dana Center with a five-game winning streak and a number 17 ranking in the latest WBCA Division II national coaches' poll. The Falcons, 18-2 overall and 12-1 NE10, lead the Northeast-10's Northeast Division by three games in the loss column over both Saint Anselm and Stonehill.
Pace has dropped its last three, falling to 8-13 overall and 5-8 in conference play. The Setters are only 2-8 away from Pleasantville, N.Y. and are currently tied for fifth in the NE10's Southwest Division.
During the current streak, the Falcon defense has given up only 55 points a game while limiting the opposition to a .344 shooting percentage, including just .214 on three-point attempts. In conference play this season, Stevens' team ranks first in field goal percentage defense and second in points allowed and opponents' three-point accuracy.
Senior guard Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS) was Bentley's top scorer during a 6-1 January as she averaged 13.3 points and made 40 percent of her three-point attempts. She buried 15 triples during the month and is coming off a 15-point, 6-rebound, 6-assist turnover-free performance in the win at Southern Connecticut.
For the season, sophomore guard Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./Edgewood HS) enters February as Bentley's top scorer. She provides 12.4 points a game as well as 6.5 rebounds and nearly two assists. Senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy), the number six rebounder in program history, follows at 11.5 and McConnell's season norm is 10.9 points.
Bentley has four of the six most accurate three-point shooters in the conference with junior guard Julia Ford (Charlton/Noble and Greenough) at the top of the list at .465. McConnell is third at .452, sophomore forward Marissa Fontaine (Franklin/Bishop Feehan HS) ranks fifth at .427 and Meriggioli's .415 is good for sixth.
For Pace, five-foot-nine forward Lauren Schetter is having a strong sophomore season with her 13.1 scoring average a team best. Coming off an 18-point effort in Tuesday's five-point loss to Stonehill, she also grabs nearly six rebounds a game and has made 17 blocks and 23 steals.
Also in doubles for the Setters are junior guard Jackie DelliSanti and senior guard Alexandria Monteleone, with scoring averages of 11.3 and 10.8 points, respectively.
As a team, Pace ranks 14th in the NE10 in scoring (59.2), field goal percentage (.382) and three-point accuracy (.275). The Setters are 4-0 when putting up at least 70 points but have averaged only 53.3 during the current three-game slide.
Bentley owns a seven-game winning streak in the series, including two victories last season, 72-66 during the regular season and 70-62 in the conference championship quarterfinals. Lux led the way, averaging 17.5 points and nine rebounds.
Bentley will also be home on Wednesday for a 5:35 pm game against Stonehill College. That game will be broadcast on both the NCAA Facebook and Twitter pages as part of the NCAA Showcase Series and will also air on a tape-delay basis later that night on NBC Sports Boston (8 pm).