Feb. 20, 2010

Courtesy of Franklin Pierce

WALTHAM, Mass. (February 20, 2010) -- The No. 1 nationally-ranked Franklin Pierce University women's basketball team pulled out a 77-73 win over Bentley on Saturday afternoon in front of a national television audience on CBS College Sports Network. The Ravens, who earlier in the week were crowned the 2010 Northeast-10 Conference regular season champions, improved to 24-1 overall and 20-1 in league play. Bentley fell to 18-8 and 16-5 in the NE-10.

The Ravens opened the game with inspired play as approximately 400 Franklin Pierce fans made the trip to Dana Center in Waltham, Mass. to cheer on their team. The fan support the entire afternoon was absolutely tremendous. It should not come as an entire surprise as Franklin Pierce and its loyal fan base were honored with the Northeast-10's Best Game Environment Award last month.

Senior standout and national player-of-the-year candidate Johannah Leedham (Ellesmere Port, England) had a strong game as she had a game-high 29 points, 13 rebounds, eight steals, five assists and a block. She was just two steals shy of recording her first double-double of the season.

Leedham's 29 points moved her over 2,800 points for her career (currently at 2,804). She became just the 16th player in NCAA women's basketball history (Divisions I, II & III) to score at least 2,800 points for her career. Leedham stands just seven points shy of moving into second in NCAA Division II women's basketball history for career scoring. She is 82 points shy of becoming the all-time leading scorer in Division II history.

Leedham's eight steals gave her 425 for her career, which is good for ninth place in Division II history. By accomplishing the feat, Leedham is now the only player in Division II history to rank among the top-10 in career scoring and steals.

Three other Ravens scored in double-figures, including junior center Tori Ahrens (East Greenwich, R.I.) with 15 points. Senior guard Kirsten Doldoorian (Brimfield, Mass.) and junior backcourt-mate Cynthia Gaudet (Coventry, R.I.) each chipped in 10 points. Gaudet also had three steals, three assists and three rebounds. Sophomore forward Marielle Giroud (Martigny, Switzerland) pulled down nine boards to aid in the victory.

Katherine Goodwin led Bentley with 20 points, while Kim Brennan added 18.

Franklin Pierce and Bentley were tied in rebounding with 46 boards apiece. The Ravens shot 40 percent (24-of-60) from the floor, while limiting the Falcons to just 32 percent (23-of-71) shooting.

Franklin Pierce held a 20-point lead at halftime, but Bentley slowly chipped away at the deficit in the second-half.

Meghan Thomann dropped in a three for Bentley with 4:03 left in the game to bring the Falcons to within three at 66-63.

However, Leedham scored six-straight points on a layup and four free throws to extend the Ravens advantage to 72-63 with :53 left. That six-point run put the game out of reach as the Ravens avenged Wednesday's night setback to Merrimack.

The victory also moved the 2009-10 edition of the Ravens into a tie for third place in program history for most wins in a season.

Franklin Pierce opened the game on a 13-0 run, including getting seven points from Leedham and four points from Ahrens. Giroud added a layup during the run as the Ravens took the early upperhand.

The Ravens defense was just as tough on Bentley in the early going as they held the Falcons without a point for the first five-and-half minutes.

Ahrens, who had a solid first half by making all six of her shots for 12 points, laid in a basket at the 8:20 mark to lift the Ravens to a 25-10 advantage. The Ravens kept up the offensive barrage minutes later as Leedham had a strip, coast-to-coast layup and ensuing free throw to stake her team to a commanding 33-12 lead.

The Ravens led by as many as 22 points in the opening half as they built a 41-21 lead going into the locker room at halftime.

Leedham had an impressive all-round first 20 minutes as she had 14 points, seven rebounds, six steals and four assists. Doldoorian also played a huge role in the first half offensive explosion as she had seven points, including two deep three-pointers.

Bentley did come out firing in the early stages of the second half and did pull within 13 at 50-37 with 14:27 left. Brennan drained a three to cap the run, which forced Franklin Pierce to call a timeout.

Doldoorian, though, had an answer for Franklin Pierce as she came out of the timeout and drilled another deep three from the left wing. Jewel White (Worcester, Mass.) threw in a basket on the Ravens next possession and they went back up by a 55-37 count.

The Falcons scored the game's next five points to get back within 13 at 55-42, but White responded at the other end with a layup and Leedham added a three from the baseline on the next series to open up the game at 60-42 with 11:42 to go.

Franklin Pierce returns to action Wednesday night when it closes out the regular season with a 5:30 p.m. tilt versus UMass-Lowell at The Fieldhouse in Rindge. The game will also be Senior Night as Franklin Pierce will honor its four seniors, Johannah Leedham, Rachel Kimball, Kirsten Doldoorian and Alexis Auffray. Fans who cannot attend the game can follow it online via audio, video and/or live stats.