Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bentley Visits UMass-Lowell Wednesday, Looking to Keep NE-10 Record Perfect

WALTHAM, Mass. -- It’s been six years since the Bentley University women’s basketball team has won its first four Northeast-10 Conference games of the season. The Falcons will be looking to change that on Wednesday when they pay a visit to UMass-Lowell. Tip-off is at 5:30 pm.
Bentley, the preseason favorite in the conference, is one of five teams tied for first with 3-0 Northeast-10 records, the others being American International, Assumption, Franklin Pierce and Pace. Since opening with a loss at nationally-ranked Holy Family, the Falcons have recorded double-digit victories over Merrimack, Saint Anselm and Southern New Hampshire.
Bentley has been solid at the defensive end in the three conference wins. Coach Barbara Stevens, currently four wins away from 800 for her career, has seen her team limit Merrimack to 35 percent shooting, amass 60 points off turnovers over the last two contests, and outrebound the opposition in all three.
Offensively, the Falcons have spread things around with six different players having scored in double figures at least once and five averaging between nine and 12 points a game.
Senior forward Elise Caira (Wakefield/Arlington Catholic HS) and junior guard Katherine Goodwin (Goffstown, N.H./Governors Academy) top the scoring list for the Falcons.  Caira is averaging a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards a game, and Goodwin’s norm is up to 11.0 after a 16-point effort Sunday at Southern New Hampshire.
Senior guard Kim Brennan (Locust Valley, N.Y./Locust Valley HS), currently at 10.0 ppg after putting up more than 17 a game last year, is 12th on Bentley’s all-time scoring list with 1,259 points. She needs five to move into 11th place and 40 to crack the top ten. Brennan has been taking good care of the basketball thus far with her 2.1 assist-turnover ratio third in the conference.
Freshman forwards Lauren Battista (North Easton/Oliver Ames HS), the reigning NE-10 Rookie of the Week, and Jacqui Brugliera (Fitchburg/Wachusett Reg. HS) have both been effective, combining for 18.5 points and 11.8 rebounds a game, and a .500 field goal percentage.
UMass-Lowell will enter Wednesday’s game with a two-game winning streak. The River Hawks, 2-3 overall and 1-1 NE-10, have beaten Southern New Hampshire and Walsh since dropping their first three contests of the campaign.
Sophomore guard Bianca Simmons was named the co-Player of the Week in the NE-10 yesterday after totaling 29 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds in the two victories. Overall, she’s giving coach Kathy O’Neil 14.6 points and four assists a game.
Six-foot-four sophomore Brianna Wilson, who transferred with her sister Whitney from Salem State, is off to a solid start. She’s averaging 9.8 points and five rebounds despite playing fewer than 18 minutes a game. Six-foot-three sophomore Briana Szidat is the NE-10’s top shot-blocker through the end of December, with 11 in five games.
Bentley is 44-2 all-time against the River Hawks but it was UMass-Lowell who prevailed in the most recent meeting of the two. The 64-61 victory over the Falcons last February ended a string of 23 straight losses in the series for Lowell.
Following Wednesday, Bentley will be home to take on defending conference champion Franklin Pierce on Saturday.  The three-game homestand will also include visits from Stonehill (Dec. 8) and C.W. Post (Dec. 21).

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