PREVIEW: Women's basketball to tangle with No. 12 Bentley in NE10 Semifinals

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Saint Anselm College women's basketball has advanced to the Semifinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament and will battle nationally-ranked Bentley University on Thursday, Mar. 7 at 7 p.m. in Waltham, Mass.

The third-seeded Hawks (19-8) handed the second-seeded Panthers from Adelphi University an 85-81 loss last week in Garden City, N.Y., earning Saint Anselm's first berth in the league semifinals since 2017. Bentley (27-2), who is ranked 12th in NCAA Division II by the Women's Basketball Coaches' Association, is the top seed in the Northeast Division and handled fourth-seeded American International by a 68-55 margin.

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TICKET INFORMATION: Adults will be charged $8 with children and senior citizen tickets for $5. Students with a valid ID from an NE10 program will be admitted for $1.

LAST TIME OUT: The Hawks picked up an 85-81 victory over Adelphi on Sunday in the Northeast-10 Conference Quarterfinals.

Junior Shannon Ryan (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) posted 29 points and a career-high 21 rebounds against Adelphi. Her rebound total was the seventh-best single game total in program history and the most since Megan Howard '11 posted 24 rebounds against NYIT on Nov. 12, 2011. During the regular season, Ryan posted a 30-point, 20-rebound performance at Adelphi.

Sophomore Grace Guachione (Pittsfield, Mass.) scored 18 points off the bench and had a career-high nine rebounds. Junior Sara Messler (Durham, N.H.) posted 13 points and senior Ashley Briggs (Scarborough, Maine) made two three-point baskets, finishing with career highs in points (10) and rebounds (seven). Freshman Eva Mazur (South Portland, Maine) tied Briggs for the team lead in assists with four.

SCOUTING SAINT ANSELM: 

  • The Hawks are looking to reach the 20-win threshold for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign. Saint Anselm has racked up at least 17 victories in each of the last four seasons. A win on Thursday would place the Hawks in their first NE10 title game since the historic 1998-99 campaign.
  • Saint Anselm was ranked seventh in the official NCAA Division II East Region rankings released on Wednesday. These rankings are used to determine the field for the upcoming NCAA Division II Championship Tournament.
  • When playing on the road, Saint Anselm is 10-3 after recording wins in each of its nine contests away from Stoutenburgh Gymnasium to begin the season. The Hawks last recorded 10 victories on the road in 2015-16 and have only accomplished that feat in five prior seasons. The all-time record for wins away from home was 12 (1990-91).
  • Saint Anselm allows its opponents to shoot only 25.9% from beyond the arc, ranking first in the NE10 and fourth among all NCAA Division II institutions. The Hawks also rank seventh in overall rebounds per game (45.63) in the nation and 10th in rebound margin (9.7).
  • Saint Anselm is averaging 69.6 points per game in 2018-19, the ninth best figure in single-season history. Entering Thursday's game, the Hawks' 45.6 rebounds per contest stands as the top mark in program history, edging the 45.1 rebounds per game accomplished by the 1984-85 program.
  • Ryan ranks second nationally with 21 double-doubles, trailing only Southern Connecticut State's Kiana Steinauer. She averages 12.5 rebounds per game, the fifth-best mark in the nation, and averages 19.2 points per game to rank second among NE10 scorers. She reached 1,000 career points against Saint Michael's to cap the regular season home schedule, becoming only the 19th in team history to do so.
  • Ryan currently stands as the program's all-time leading rebounder with 11.7 rebounds per game. Her 18.8 points per game in a Hawks uniform is second all-time, trailing only Linda Dunn's mark of 19.2 across 81 games from 1980-84. Her 120 career blocks are the fourth-most all-time and her 655 career rebounds are the 13th most in program history.
  • Steinman owns the nation's 17th best free throw percentage (87.6%) and ranks seventh in the NE10 with 33.86 minutes played per game. She is in the midst of a breakout season, scoring 13.9 points per game while averaging 6.1 rebounds per contest, both career-high marks. She has reached double-digit scoring totals in 14 out of her last 16 appearances for Saint Anselm.
  • In two games against Bentley this season, Steinman leads the Hawks by scoring 12.5 points per game. She has also recorded an average of nine rebounds per game against Bentley. As a freshman, Steinman led all student-athletes in rebounding (13) against Bentley, including six offensive boards across only 49 minutes of game play versus the Falcons.
  • Messler has notched 9.3 points per game, a career-best total, and classmate Julia Thissell (Hopkinton, Mass.) has provided a spark off the bench, tallying just shy of five points per game while securing 3.3 caroms, on average.
  • Briggs is in the midst of a stellar fourth season on the Hilltop, setting career-high marks for points per game (4.6), minutes per game (27.8), games started (27), rebounds per game (2.3) and assists per game (2.6). She is joined in the backcourt by classmate Michaela Martin (Haverhill, Mass.) – she has also set career-highs in rebounds per game (2.4).
  • Guards Guachione and Mazur have earned 25 starts between them as Guachione was felled by injury near the midpoint of the season. Guachione has set personal-best marks with 8.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest. As a freshman, Mazur has averaged nearly 20 minutes per game, handing out 2.2 assists per game.

SCOUTING BENTLEY:

  • The Falcons enter play having won each of their last 14 games, losing only twice on the season. Bentley, the winners of the NE10's Northeast Division title, was downed by No. 9 University of the Sciences and posted an 18-point loss to Le Moyne at home near the beginning of January.
  • Bentley has advanced to the NE10 Semifinals for the 35th time in the last 38 seasons.
  • Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Bentley owns an overall record of 110-18 and won the NCAA Division II National Championship to conclude the 2013-14 season. Last season, the Falcons fell to USciences in the Second Round of the NCAA East Region Championship after edging Jefferson in the First Round.
  • Bentley has dished out 517 assists and 17.8 helpers per game, the sixth and ninth-best marks in NCAA Division II, respectively. The team also ranks ninth nationally in defensive rebounds per game (31.0) and makes their perimeter shots at a 38.3% clip, the 10th-best three-point shooting team in the country.
  • Bentley leads the league in a variety of statistics, including fewest fouls (443), free throws made (401), rebounds (1,234), scoring margin (14.6) and three-point field goal percentage (38.3%). The squad's 93.1% winning percentage is in the top 10 nationally and leads all NE10 programs after losing only two contests on the season.
  • Amy McConnell ranks in the top five in the Northeast-10 in assists (135), assists per game (4.7), assist-to-turnover ratio (2.01) and minutes played (980). Victoria Lux ranks within the top 10 in the league in free throw attempts (153) and  offensive rebounds per game (3.0), matching Kate Meriggioli with exactly 207 rebounds on the year to rank 11th in the league.
  • McConnell, Lux, Meriggioli and senior Megan Lewis were all named to All-Conference teams. McConnell was a Second Team selection while Lux picked up Third Team recognition. Lewis and Meriggioli were named to the Honorable Mention squad. Lewis was named the Most Outstanding Player of last season's NE10 Championship.

NE10 POSTSEASON ALL-TIME: 

  • Saint Anselm won its first and only NE10 tournament title in 1990-91, defeating nationally-ranked Bentley by an 81-76 margin. The Hawks have finished as the tournament's runner-up on five occasions, most recently in 1998-99.
  • The Hawks are 27-28 in the NE10 postseason with their furthest recent trip in the tournament coming in 2017 with a semifinals loss to Bentley. Saint Anselm's most recent NCAA Division II Tournament appearance came in 2016, falling to Bentley by a 62-54 margin in the regional quarterfinals.
  • Bentley is 85-16 all-time in the NE10 postseason, having won a league-best 20 championships and coming in as the league's runner-up on eight occasions. The Falcons came into this season with a 591-110 (.843) regular season record across 37 seasons.
  • The Falcons have won six titles since the start of the 2010-11 season, including last season's thrilling overtime victory over Stonehill in the league's title game.

HEAD COACHES:

  • Saint Anselm head coach Corey Boilard has registered a 36-20 (.643) record since joining the Hawks prior to the 2017-18 season. After a 17-win campaign in his first season, the Hawks have lost only eight of their 27 games in 2018-19.
  • Boilard owns a 120-73 overall record between his time with the Hawks and NCAA Division III Johnson & Wales (R.I.). With the Wildcats, Boilard's teams went 62-22 (.738) overall in his last three seasons, making two NCAA Tournament appearances overall.
  • Long-time Head Coach Barbara Stevens, named NE10 Co-Coach of the Year this past week, is one of 13 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this season and the fourth winningest coach in NCAA women's basketball history.
  • Stevens, a five-time Russell Athletic/WBCA Division II National Coach of the Year (including 2013 and 2014), has a record of 881-189 in 33 Bentley seasons.

ALL-TIME vs. BENTLEY:

  • The Falcons lead the all-time series over Saint Anselm, 75-13. The Hawks have won only two of the last 48 meetings, the last victory coming on Feb. 20, 2016, a 65-57 win over Bentley.
  • Saint Anselm handed Bentley four losses during the 1994-95 season, including an overtime victory coming in the NCAA Division II Tournament on Mar. 10, 1995.
  • The Hawks picked up their lone NE10 Tournament Championship with a win over Bentley on Mar. 2, 1991.