WALTHAM, Mass. – Competing in the Northeast-10 Conference Semifinals, the Saint Anselm College women's basketball team was toppled by the Falcons from Bentley University on Thursday by a 74-59 score.
Saint Anselm, ranked seventh in the latest East Region rankings released by the NCAA, falls to 19-9 on the year following the postseason defeat. Bentley, ranked second in the East Region and 12th in NCAA Division II by the Women's Basketball Coaches' Association, moves to 28-2 and will travel to Le Moyne for the NE10 Championship game.
The Hawks will wait and see if their name will be called during the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Selection Show, scheduled for Sunday at 10 p.m. – the stream can be viewed on NCAA.com. Saint Anselm is in search of its first NCAA Tournament berth since the 2015-16 season.
Sophomore Peyton Steinman (Pittsfield, Mass.) scored 18 points for the Hawks, leading the team. Junior Shannon Ryan (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) had 13 points and seven rebounds, followed by a double-double from classmate Sara Messler (Durham, N.H.). She tallied 11 points and 10 rebounds in the defeat, reaching 500 points in a Saint Anselm uniform.
Ryan finished the game with 345 rebounds on the season, passing the single-season program record of 344 set by Andrea Sunday '95 during her senior season.
Bentley controlled the glass, picking up 43 of the game's 72 rebounds, the largest rebound margin allowed by the Hawks in 2018-19. The Falcons also controlled the paint with 38 points under the basket, limiting Saint Anselm to only 22 points beneath the rim.
Saint Anselm opened up an 11-5 lead, forcing a Bentley time out with 3:59 to go in the first quarter. During that stretch, Briggs had a clutch three-pointer and Ryan recorded a jumper in the paint, set up by Briggs, to fuel the Hawks on offense. After the opening 10 minutes of play, the Hawks owned a one point lead, 15-14, with the help of six Saint Anselm points off of four Bentley turnovers.
Briggs made the second quarter's first layup, for either team, with 6:37 to go to recreate a three-point lead for Saint Anselm. With made shots at a premium in the waning minutes of the first half, it was Bentley who built up a six point lead, 26-20, with under two minutes to go following a clutch trey from Maddy Springfield. The lead for Bentley grew to eight, 28-28, with a Monica Viapiano layup.
Three-straight free throw makes by Steinman reduced the Bentley lead to 28-23 and the Hawks defense did not allow another basket through the final 1:17 of the stanza. The Falcons outscored the Hawks by a 14-8 margin in the second quarter on the way to a 28-23 lead at the break. A stout Bentley defense yielded only two made Hawks shots in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Bentley poured home seven of the second half's first nine points, creating its first double-digit advantage of the game less than two minutes into the third quarter. The Falcons never looked back, growing the advantage to a game-high 15 points, but Saint Anselm trimmed the Bentley lead to nine points on two occasions.
The Falcons put the game out of reach with a strong fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 16 points with just over six minutes left in regulation time. Bentley captured a game-high lead of 18 points with a layup in the final minute of action.
Viapiano made nine of her 11 shots from the floor, leading the Falcons with 22 points. Victoria Lux had 11 points and nine rebounds in the winning effort.