Women's Basketball Can’t Hang On at #19 Bentley, 63-56

Walsh led the Skyhawks with 16 points, draining four three-pointers. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)

Falcons come back from 19-point second half deficit to win sixth straight

WALTHAM, Mass. (February 1, 2017) – Stonehill College couldn't make a 19-point lead midway through the third quarter stand as Bentley University, ranked 19th in both the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and D2SIDA Top 25 polls, rallied for a 63-56 victory in Northeast-10 Conference women's basketball action at the Dana Athletic Center tonight.

Senior Jen Gemma (Milton, Massachusetts/Fontbonne Academy) scored 20 of her game-high 28 points in the second half, including 12 in the third quarter to spark the comeback, finishing with a double-double as she added 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. She shot 10-of-18 from the field, including 2-for-6 from three-point distance, and converted 6-of-7 free-throw attempts to lead Bentley. Junior Lauren Green (Damascus, Maryland/Damascus) added 12 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, two rebounds and two steals, while classmate Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, California/Windward School) scored eight of her ten points in the final frame, converting all eight free-throws, with three boards and three assists. Sophomore Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) chipped in with nine rebounds for the Falcons.

Junior Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic) paced three Stonehill players in double-figures with 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting, including 4-for-10 from three-point distance, with six assists. Her four three-point field goals give her an NE10 leading 63 for the season, one shy of cracking the program's single-season list, and 119 in 77 career games, also one shy of moving into tenth on the program's career list.

Junior Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) scored 13 of her 14 points in the first half on 6-of-12 shooting, with four rebounds, while freshman Kelsey Shaw (Bar Harbor, Maine/Mount Desert Island) rounded out Stonehill's double-figure scorers with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, converting 3-of-4 free-throws, with three boards. Sophomore Maty Diabate (Holden, Massachusetts/Wachusett Regional) pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, with six points, while junior Kate Ross (Fall River, Massachusetts/The Lincoln School) grabbed seven boards.

Bentley finished shooting 36.4-percent from the field (20-for-55) by connecting on 50% (14-28) of its shots in the second half after being held to 22.2% (6-27) in the opening half. The Falcons were 4-for-15 (26.7%) from three-point distance, but made 19-of-23 (82.6%) free-throws, outscoring Stonehill 14-5 in points off turnovers and 12-6 for second chance points. Stonehill connected on 43.4% (23-53) of its shots from the field, including 48.4% (15-31) in the first half, but just 8-for-22 (36.4%) in the closing 20. The Skyhawks were 4-for-12 (33.3%) from beyond the arc and just 6-for-11 (54.5%) from the free-throw line.

Hyslip added 14 points and four rebounds for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Bob Blanchard)

Stonehill led by 16 at halftime (33-17) and pushed the advantage to a game-high 19 points (42-23) less than four minutes into the third quarter after a three-pointer and layup by Walsh. Bentley started to chip away, using a 12-2 run to draw back within single digits (44-35) after a layup by freshman Monica Viapiano (Holden, Massachusetts/Holy Name) with 2:31 remaining in the third, while Gemma scored six points during that stretch.

Bentley's deficit remained nine (47-38) heading into the fourth quarter and the Falcons scored eight of the first ten points in the opening three minutes of the frame to close within a possession (49-46), keyed by three-pointers by Gemma and Green. Walsh drilled a straight-away three-pointer to initially answer the run for Stonehill, but layups by Gemma and Viapiano pulled the Falcons within two (52-50) with 4:21 left.

Ross scored a jumper to give Stonehill another two possession lead (54-50) with four minutes remaining, but Gemma scored a three-point play and then Smith drained two free-throws with 1:18 left to snap a two minute scoring drought by both teams and give the Falcons their first lead of the night (55-54). Shaw put the Skyhawks back in front with 1:02 left, but they wouldn't score again, turning the ball over four straight possessions as Bentley converted all eight free-throws in the final minute to seal the win.

Stonehill controlled the entire first half, scoring the first nine points of the game and holding Bentley scoreless for the first seven and a half minutes of the game on its way to an 11-point (14-3) lead after a quarter of play. The Falcons were just 1-for-14 shooting from the floor (7.1%) overall in the frame. The Skyhawks kept the pressure on in the second quarter, stretching the lead to 18 (23-5) after a Walsh triple three minutes in. Bentley made some runs to within 14 down the stretch in the half, but Stonehill carried a 16 point lead (33-17) into the lockerroom at halftime.

Stonehill (9-10, 8-7 NE10) looks to bounce back on Saturday when it hosts Franklin Pierce University at Merkert Gymnasium as part of Alumni Weekend at the College at 1:30 p.m. Bentley (18-4, 14-1 NE10) visits regionally-ranked Assumption College on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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