WALTHAM, Mass. - Down just six points early in the second half against the 14th-ranked team in the nation, the Saint Michael's College women's basketball team fell to Bentley University, 80-59, on Wednesday in the Dana Center. The Purple Knights are 3-5 overall and 3-3 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Falcons improved to 8-2 and 6-0. Bentley, whose national ranking is according to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), won the 2016 NE10 Championship before advancing as far as the NCAA Tournament Final Four.
Junior Tomi Akinpetide (Sydney, Australia/Rice Memorial) matched her career high with 13 points, shooting 5-of-8, while adding four rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. Sophomore Emily Ferreri (Hyde Park, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) had 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting, five assists and two steals, and classmate Samantha Delaney (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown East) totaled nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 20 minutes. Delaney has seven blocks in her last two games, upping her career total to 44 and passing Nicole Adach '13 (42) for 15th in program history. First-year Cassandra Falone (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) had eight points in eight minutes.
Junior Leah Spencer (Brockton, Mass./Archbishop Williams) pulled five rebounds while first-year Brianna Purcell (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) handed out three assists for the visitors, who shot 9-of-11 on free throws. Bentley went to the charity stripe 29 times, making 20 freebies.
Junior Jen Gemma led Bentley with 26 points, six rebounds and three assists, while sophomore Amy McConnell had 12 points and six boards off the bench. Junior Lauren Green added 10 points.
Spencer nailed a jumper 26 seconds into the game before Akinpetide's lay-in made it 4-0, but Gemma responded with a personal 9-0 run that took 2:06 to elapse. McConnell's lay-up at 5:05 of the opening quarter put the hosts up 13-8, but Purcell assisted Ferreri's jumper before hitting two free throws to create a one-point deficit. Ferreri came up with a steal before assisting Purcell's tying bucket at 2:30, and the teams traded 4-0 runs that by the time Ferreri tied the game at 18 on a long jumper 13 seconds into the second quarter.
McConnell's lay-in at 8:59 put the Falcons on top for good, sparking a 5-0 run, but the Purple Knights trimmed the margin to 29-28 on Delaney's three-point play with 4:58 to go. However, Gemma put home the next two buckets to begin a 6-0 stretch, and Bentley sandwiched three-pointers from Green and McConnell in the final 1:25 around an Akinpetide trey to make it 41-33 by halftime.
Akinpetide's pair of free throws 18 seconds into the third quarter cut the hole to six, but the Falcons responded with the next seven points, as Gemma netted the last five, to spark an 18-4 run and nab a 59-39 lead with 44 seconds left in the period. Saint Michael's never came closer than 17 points down the stretch.
The Purple Knights visit Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. contest. The game will be broadcast live on NESNplus and NESN National.