WALTHAM, Mass. – A 26-point, seven-assist performance from Candace Andrews was not enough for the eighth-seeded Saint Anselm College women's basketball team in a 62-54 loss to top-seeded Bentley University in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II East Regional on Friday evening at the Dana Center.
Saint Anselm (18-10) trailed Bentley (26-5) 50-30 with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter but climbed to within 10 at 52-42 with 7:43 to go in regulation after a 12-2 run. However, the Hawks could not get closer than 10 until the final 68 seconds, as the Falcons held on for the win.
With the win, Bentley advances to the second round to face the winner of the final quarterfinal between fourth-seeded Queens (N.Y.) and fifth-seeded Holy Family. Saint Anselm's season comes to a close after the Hawks made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999.
Andrews shot 9-for-17 from the field and 7-for-9 from the free-throw line on her way to a season-high 26 points and scored or assisted on 16 of Saint Anselm's 20 field goals in the game. She was the lone double-digit scorer for the Hawks, who got three three-pointers from Ali Glennon, eight points from Raquel Johnson and six points, 13 rebounds and five blocks off the bench from Kalia Duarte.
Trailing by 20 with less than 12 minutes left in regulation, Saint Anselm closed the third quarter on a 7-2 run to go to the fourth down 52-37. The Hawks then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter on a jumper by Andrews and a corner three by Glennon to get within 10.
Bentley protected its double-digit lead until the final two minutes when a three-point play by Andrews got Saint Anselm within 59-50 with 1:08 remaining. The Falcons made five out of six free throws in the final 1:17 to hold on and an Andrews three with 25 seconds left closed the scoring.
Andrews had 14 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter alone and Glennon's three was the only other points of the final 10 minutes for the Hawks. Saint Anselm held Bentley to 1-for-11 shooting form the field in the fourth quarter but the hosts were 8-for-9 at the free-throw line.
Northeast-10 Player of the Year Jen Gemma led Bentley with 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks but shot just 6-for-21 from the field. Megan Lewis added 11 points, while Victoria Lux and Lauren Green each had nine for the Falcons.
Saint Anselm made six of its first seven shots from the field to take a 15-12 lead midway through the first quarter. Andrews scored or assisted on the Hawks' first six field goals, scoring six points and handing out four assists in the early stages.
Bentley took the lead by scoring the next five points but a three-point play by Duarte gave the Hawks the lead again at 18-17. Megan Lewis scored the final three points of the first quarter for the Falcons to give the hosts a 20-18 lead after one quarter.
The Falcons opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 28-18 lead inside the first three minutes of the period. After Saint Anselm made six of its first seven shots, the Hawks made just one of their next 13 before an Andrews jumper broke a scoring drought of 6:03.
Gemma's second three-pointer of the first half gave Bentley its largest lead of the first half at 33-20 with 2:38 remaining and the hosts took a 37-25 lead into the locker room. Gemma scored 13 points before the break and Bentley enjoyed a 22-8 advantage in points in the paint and a 9-2 edge in points off turnovers in the first half.
For the game, Saint Anselm shot an even 40.0 percent from the floor but could not overcome 23 turnovers. Bentley shot at a 37.5 percent clip but was 16-for-18 at the charity stripe, compared to 9-for-16 for the Hawks.
The game was the final contest in the careers of seniors Johnson and Nancy Stablein. The pair helped the Hawks to 46 wins over their careers as the Hawks got back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 17 seasons in their senior year.