PREVIEW: NCAA Division II East Region Quarterfinal - Saint Anselm vs. Bentley

PHILADELPHIA - Saint Anselm College (19-9), the seventh seed in the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball East Regional, will be making its eighth appearance in the NCAA Division II Championship on Friday, Mar. 15, taking on second-seeded (and nationally-ranked) Bentley University (28-3) in the quarterfinal round. The game will be played at 2:30 p.m. at the University of the Sciences.

The Hawks have qualified for six tournaments in 10 years from 1990-99 and most recently earned a spot in the Division II tournament in 2016. Saint Anselm will be looking to reach the 20-win threshold for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign, having racked up at least 17 victories in each of the last four seasons.

Bentley enters the game ranked 12th in NCAA Division II by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. The Falcons are ranked 14th in the country by the Division II Sports Information Directors' Association.

LAST TIME OUT: Competing in the Northeast-10 Conference Semifinals, Saint Anselm was toppled by Bentley on Thursday, Mar. 7 by a 74-59 score.

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.

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.

SCOUTING SAINT ANSELM

  • When playing on the road, Saint Anselm is 10-4 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 26.0% from beyond the arc, ranking first in the NE10 and sixth among all NCAA Division II institutions. The Hawks also rank 10th in overall rebounds per game (45.04) in the nation and 15th in rebound margin (8.9).
  • Saint Anselm is averaging 69.2 points per game in 2018-19, the 10th-best figure in single-season history. Entering Friday's game, the Hawks' 45.0 rebounds per contest stands as the second-best mark in program history, trailing 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 12.3 rebounds per game, the sixth-best mark in the nation, and averages 19.0 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 set two program records in her last game, recording her 345th rebound of the season to break Andrea Sunday's previous single-season record of 344 in 1994-95. She also posted her 230th field goal, passing Kristen Skoglund and her mark of 229 set in 1995-96. Ryan is one point away from matching her scoring output from last season (532), the second-most points scored in one season.
  • Ryan needs only seven offensive rebounds to set the single-season record of 127.
  • Ryan currently stands as the program's all-time leading rebounder with 11.6 rebounds per game. Her 18.5 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 122 career blocks are the fourth-most all-time and her 662 career rebounds are the 13th most in program history.
  • Steinman owns the nation's 15th best free throw percentage (87.7%) and ranks seventh in the NE10 with 34.08 minutes played per game. She is in the midst of a breakout season, scoring 14.0 points per game while averaging 5.9 rebounds per contest, both career-high marks. She has reached double-digit scoring totals in 15 out of her last 17 appearances for Saint Anselm.
  • In three games against Bentley this season, Steinman leads the Hawks by scoring 14.3 points per game. She has also recorded an average of 6.7 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 3.2 caroms, on average.
  • Briggs is in the midst of a stellar fourth season on the Hilltop, setting career-high marks for points per game (4.7), minutes per game (28.1), games started (28), 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 (2.3).
  • Guards Guachione and Mazur have earned 26 starts between them as Guachione was felled by injury near the midpoint of the season. Guachione has set personal-best marks with 7.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest. As a freshman, Mazur has averaged nearly 20 minutes per game, handing out 2.1 assists per game.

SCOUTING BENTLEY

  • The Falcons enter play having won all but one of their last 16 games, losing only three times 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 advanced to the NE10 Championship game for the 29th time last week, falling to Le Moyne by a 67-45 margin.
  • Since the start of the 2015-16 season, Bentley owns an overall record of 110-19 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 541 assists and 17.5 helpers per game, the seventh and 11th-best marks in NCAA Division II, respectively. The team also ranks 10th nationally in defensive rebounds per game (31.0) and makes their perimeter shots at a 37.1% clip, the 18th-best three-point shooting team in the country.
  • Bentley leads the NE10 in a variety of statistics, including fewest fouls (479), free throws made (420), rebounds (1,307), scoring margin (13.4) and three-point field goal percentage (37.1%).
  • Amy McConnell ranks in the top five in the Northeast-10 in assists (137), assists per game (4.4), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.90) and minutes played (1,051). Lux ranks within the top 10 in the league in free throw attempts (167) and offensive rebounds per game (3.0).
  • McConnell, Lux, Kate 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.

NCAA POSTSEASON ALL-TIME

  • Across seven prior appearances in the NCAA Division II Championship, the Hawks own an overall record of 4-7. Saint Anselm has made a trip to the regional finals on three occasions, losing to Bentley twice and the most recent trip to Stonehill in 1995.
  • Against Mass.-Lowell in the First Round of the 1991 East Regional, the Hawks made seven of their nine attempts from beyond the arc to set the NCAA Championship record at the time. It has since been equaled on two occasions.
  • Last time out, the Hawks fell to Bentley by a 62-54 margin in the regional quarterfinals in 2016. Saint Anselm handed Bentley a 79-74 overtine defeat in the 1995 semifinals, its most recent postseason win against the Falcons.
  • Bentley finished as the national runner-up in 1990 before claiming its first-ever national championship in 2014, defeating West Texas A&M by a 76-65 score in Erie, PA.
  • The Falcons have qualified for 35 NCAA Division II Championships, the most among any program in division history. The Falcons have posted an overall record of 64-36 (.640) since their first-ever appearance in 1982.
  • In 2018, Bentley was handed a 61-54 loss by the University of the Sciences in the semifinal round. The Falcons opened last year's championship with a 71-66 win over Jefferson in the quarterfinals.

HEAD COACHES

  • Saint Anselm head coach Corey Boilard has registered a 36-21 (.632) 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 nine of their 28 games in 2018-19.
  • Boilard owns a 120-74 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 Bentley Head Coach Barbara Stevens, named NE10 Co-Coach of the Year last 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 882-189 in 33 Bentley seasons.

ALL-TIME vs. BENTLEY

  • The Falcons lead the all-time series over Saint Anselm, 76-13. The Hawks have won only two of the last 49 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.