NE-10 QUARTERFINAL: Top-seed Bentley Slips Past #5 Women's Basketball, 54-50

Sophomore Courtney Walsh made all three attempts from beyond the arc for 11 points today. (PHOTO BY Peter Buehner)

Gemma provides nearly a third of Falcons offense to advance

WALTHAM, Mass. (February 28, 2016) – Northeast Division regular season champions Bentley University slipped past Northeast No. 5 seed Stonehill College in the fourth quarter to claim a 54-50 victory in quarterfinal round action of the Northeast-10 Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at the Charles A. Dana Athletic Center this afternoon.

Bentley (23-5, 16-5 NE-10), ranked first in the NCAA East Regional rankings and receiving votes in the D2SIDA Top 25 poll, advances to Thursday's semifinal round where it will host Southwest Division No. 2 Southern Connecticut State University (19-10, 11-9 NE-10) at 7 p.m. The Owls advanced with a 70-60 victory over Northeast No. 3 Assumption College in a quarterfinal this afternoon. Stonehill sees its season come to a close with a 15-14 record overall, including 9-12 in the Northeast-10. The Skyhawks were making their Conference record 35th NE-10 Tournament appearance.

Junior forward Jen Gemma (Milton, Massachusetts/Fontbonne Academy), the NE-10 Player of the Year, powered Bentley with a career-high 34 points (22 in 2nd half) on 13-of-22 shooting from the field, including 3-for-5 from three-point distance, while converting 5-of-7 free-throws to go with a team-high nine rebounds. She nearly single-handedly led the Falcons in avoiding the upset as the rest of the team shot just a combined 6-for-32 (18.8-percent) from the field as the hosts finished shooting 35.2-percent overall (19-for-54), including 46.2% (12-26) in the second half after making just 25% (7-28) of their shots in the first.

Freshman Victoria Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Academy) added eight points, converting 4-of-6 free-throws, and five rebounds for Bentley. The Falcons were 4-for-18 (22.2%) from three-point range and converted 12-of-18 (66.7%) free-throws, but posted a 15-4 advantage in points off turnovers for the afternoon.

Sophomores Samantha Hyslip (Westford, Massachusetts/Westford Academy) and Courtney Walsh (Windham, New Hampshire/Central Catholic) each scored a team-high 11 points to lead a balanced Stonehill effort. Hyslip was 5-for-7 from the floor and converted 1-of-2 free-throws to go with two rebounds in 14 minutes of play, while Walsh scored all 11 of her points in the second half and was 4-for-5 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, with three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Junior Kelly Martin (Scituate, Massachusetts/Scituate) added eight points, eight rebounds and six assists, while senior Shannon Brown (Las Vegas, Nevada/Centennial) grabbed a team-high nine rebounds with five points and two assists.

Samantha Hyslip added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting with two rebounds. (PHOTO BY Peter Buehner)

Stonehill shot 38-percent from the field (19-for-50), but just 33.3% (8-24) in the second half after connecting at 42.3% (11-26) in the first. The Skyhawks made 4-of-9 three-pointers (44.4%) and 8-of-10 free-throws (80%), while holding a 36-32 rebounding edge.

Stonehill held a five point halftime lead (27-22) and quickly extended that to seven when Hyslip opened the second half with a jumper. Bentley pushed back within three times over the first five minutes of the third quarter, but the Skyhawks still held a six point lead (36-30) with 4:53 remaining in the quarter after a Walsh three-pointer. The teams traded baskets with Stonehill leading by five (39-34) after two free-throws by senior Paige Marshall (Braintree, Massachusetts/Braintree) with 1:37 remaining. The Falcons pulled even at the break (39-39) with a layup by Gemma and a three-point play from sophomore Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, California/Windward School) with five seconds left.

Bentley took the lead in the fourth quarter on a Gemma three-pointer 17-seconds in and wouldn't surrender it the rest of the way. The Falcons stretched the lead to five (50-45) when Smith made one of two at the line with 4:16 to play. Walsh answered with a three-pointer for Stonehill and after neither team scored for over three minutes, Hyslip pulled the Skyhawks even (50-50) with 48-seconds remaining.

Senior Jane White (Amherst, New Hampshire/Souhegan) was fouled with 30-seconds to play, but made just one of two, to give Stonehill the final possession without a shot clock. However, Brown missed a layup inside. Gemma pulled down the rebound, was fouled and made both free-throws to extend the lead to three (53-50) with ten seconds to play. The Skyhawks had one last chance, but Martin's contested three-pointer was off the mark and Lux split two free-throws after she was fouled to seal the victory.

Stonehill emerged from a first quarter in which it trailed by five (11-6) midway through with a two point lead (17-15) after a basket by freshman Nicole Rojas (Cromwell, Connecticut/Cromwell) with 22-seconds left. The teams traded baskets in the second quarter until the Skyhawks scored the final five points of the half to take a five point lead (27-22). Freshman Tayler Wornum (Randolph, Massachusetts/Archbishop Williams) scored three of the five points, while sophomore Elizabeth Grip (Shrewsbury, Massachusetts/Shrewsbury) added a pair.

Marshall caps her Stonehill career with 1,038 points in 116 career games played. Her 113 career starts finish just one shy of Jillian Middlemiss' '04 record of 114. Martin enters her senior season next year with 937 points in 74 career games.

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