WALTHAM, Mass. – Although the Bentley University Falcons is 42-6 all-time in women's basketball against Southern New Hampshire, it's been a closely-contested series in recent years. Bentley has won four of the last seven meetings and five of the seven have been decided by five or less, including the Falcons' 70-65 victory at SNHU Dec. 5.
The two will renew acquaintances on Wednesday when the Falcons host the Penmen at the Dana Center in a Northeast-10 Northeast Division contest. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 pm with the webcast available on the NE10NOW Digital Network and www.bentleyfalcons.tv.
Bentley, which leads the division by four games with five to play, can clinch a tie for the Northeast title with a victory. Hall of Fame Coach Barbara Stevens' team, ranked 14th in Division II this week, is 21-2 overall and 15-1 NE10 after winning its last eight games.
Southern New Hampshire owns records of 15-8 overall and 9-7 NE10 after winning five of its last six. The Penmen have already recorded their most wins since the 2011-12 team finished 19-10.
Bentley is coming off a hard-fought 57-51 win at Assumption on Saturday, a game in which the Falcons came alive in the middle two quarters after trailing by 15 after one. The defense gave up only 16 points during that time while limiting the Greyhounds to 4 of 20 shooting.
Bentley has spread the offense around this season with five players currently averaging in double figures. Senior center Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) is back at the top of the list at 11.5 after putting up 21 and 13 in the Falcons' two games last week. The team's leading rebounder has had at least eight boards in five of the last six games.
Also over 11 are the backcourt tandem of sophomore Katie Meriggioli (Waunakee, Wis./ Edgewood HS) and senior Amy McConnell (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor HS). Meriggioli has been quiet in the last three games after making nine of 17 three-pointers in road wins at Adelphi and Southern Connecticut to finish January.
Junior forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS) and senior guard Megan Lewis (Sevenoaks, England) own averages of 10.1 and 10.0, respectively with both players shooting 53 percent from the field.
The five double-figure scorers have resulted in Bentley averaging 73.4 points per game, second best in the NE10. The Falcons lead the conference in field goal percentage (.438) and three-point accuracy (.403) as well as free throws attempted (20.2 per game).
Southern New Hampshire features senior forward Kylie Lorenzen who is in the NE10's top five in scoring (18.3), rebounding 9.9) and steals (3.1). She has 11 20-point games this season and with 1,673 points, is only 41 away from becoming SNHU's all-time leading scorer.
The team's other co-captain, senior guard Brianna Camara, is second on the team in both scoring (10.5) and rebounding (6.9). She's the only player in the conference with at least 150 rebounds and 75 assists.
Off the bench, junior guard Molly Terry has made a team-high 40 three-pointers.
Southern New Hampshire is third in the NE10 in scoring (73.0) and tenth in the conference in scoring defense (64.0).
In the first meeting this season, Bentley prevailed by five when Kolleen Bouchard (Houlton, Maine/Houlton HS) drew an offensive rebound with 7.5 seconds left and Lewis sank two free throws with :06 remaining. The Falcons dominated the first half, 39-20, before a 33-point third by SNHU made it a close game.
On Saturday, Bentley will also be at home against a team from Manchester, hosting Saint Anselm in a Pink Day game at 1:30 pm.