WALTHAM, Mass. – A put-back by Siena College transfer and graduate student Symone Kelly (Wyandanch, N.Y.) with 2.5 seconds left capped a game-ending 11-4 run and gave Molloy College a 56-55 non-conference win over Bentley University, the 11th-ranked team in Division II, in women's college basketball action New Year's Eve day at the Dana Center.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Bentley, dropping the region's number one-ranked team to 10-3 overall. Meanwhile, Molloy, which was coming off a win over the region's number two team (Caldwell) on Thursday, improved to 10-4.
Bentley was led by All-America senior forward Jen Gemma (Milton/Fontbonne Academy), who scored a game-high 20 points and moved past Alison Fay '84 into third on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,794 points.
The Falcons, who took a 44-36 lead into the final quarter, were still up six, 51-45, with about six minutes to play after junior guard Lauren Green (Damascus, Md./Damascus HS) stuck a three-pointer.
However, Bentley came up empty on its next five possessions and the Lions took advantage, scoring six unanswered, the last two on a lay-up by Kelly, to tie the game at 51 with 2:38 left.
The Falcons responded with back-to-back lay-ups by Gemma and junior guard Macchi Smith (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) producing a 55-51 advantage with 1:41 left. Molloy came back with one of two free throws by grad student Kamala Thompson (Selden, N.Y.) and a driving lay-up by senior guard Shantana Kanhoye (South Richmond Hill, N.Y.), making it a one-point game with 40.7 seconds remaining.
Bentley's ensuing possession ended with a 30-second violation after a desperation shot failed to draw iron, and Molloy regained the ball with 9.7 seconds left. Following a missed shot, Kelly corralled her eighth rebound and delivered her team's 13th and 14th second-chance points of the game with the lead the Lions' first of the second half.
After advancing the ball on a timeout, Bentley got the ball underneath to Gemma, but her buzzer-beating attempt was off the mark, denying the Falcons their 30th win of the calendar year.
Following a low-scoring first half that was tied after both the first and second quarters (14-14, 22-22), Bentley started the third with nine unanswered, a run book-ended by a pair of Gemma lay-ups.
Gemma, who also had six rebounds and three assists, made 9 of 16 shots overall while her teammates struggled to make only 12 of 40 attempts. Green was Bentley's second-leading scorer with seven points and freshman forward Monica Viapiano (Holden/Holy Name HS) provided a career-best seven in 14 minutes off the bench.
Kelly led Molloy with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and Thompson followed with a dozen.
Both teams shot about 37 percent with Molloy having a little more success from three, 4 of 16 as compared to the Falcons' 2 of 13. Bentley had an 11-8 advantage in free throws made, one less turnovers and a 38-34 rebounding edge.
Bentley will be right back at it New Year's Day with a 2 pm tip-off at the Dana Center against Holy Family University.