MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Sophomore guard Greg Jacques (Brockton, Mass./St. Sebastian's HS), in his first career start, scored a career-high 19 points, including the first three of a game-ending 6-0 spurt, as Bentley University came from behind to top Southern New Hampshire University, 54-50, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Sunday afternoon at the SNHU Field House.
Bentley's fourth straight win kept the 4-2 Falcons perfect in the NE-10 (3-0) and gave the team sole possession of first in the conference, a half-game in front of idle UMass-Lowell. Southern New Hampshire, limited to just 16 second-half points by the Falcon D, dropped to 0-3 NE-10 and 2-3 overall.
The Falcons, down as many as 12 in the first half, trailed by a half dozen as the game clock moved below five minutes. The comeback began with junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/ Winthrop HS) scoring on a goal-tended fast-break lay-up with 4:41 left, making it a 48-44 game. It stayed that way for nearly two minutes, until a put-back by senior forward Joe Fremeau (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) drew Bentley within two, 48-46 with 2:47 remaining.
Following a Penmen missed shot that went out of bounds to Bentley, senior guard Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side HS) made a nine-foot one-hander with 1:57 to play, squaring the game at 48 apiece. Southern New Hampshire regained the lead on its next possession with junior forward Troy Stapleton (Rahway, N.J.) knocking down a pair of free throws.
Jacques answered with a drive to the basket, tying the game at 50 with 1:20 left. He was fouled on the play but couldn't complete the three-point play. However, Bentley retained possession when the ball went out of bounds. Jacques was fouled on the inbound play and made the first of two to give Bentley its first lead since 8-7.
He missed the second but tracked down the rebound. After Dowling missed a pull-up jumper, the possession continued when Leclerc came up with the offensive board. Dowling was fouled with 35.8 seconds on the clock and made them both to put the Falcons up 53-50.
The Penmen used up a large portion of the remaining time looking for a tying three, but settled with Stapleton going to the basket. He was fouled with 13.2 on the clock and missed both from the line. Junior forward Kevin Kettl (Hershey, Pa./Hershey HS) corralled the rebound and made it a two-possession game by hitting the second of two from the line with 11.4 seconds left.
A 7-0 SNHU spurt late in the opening half gave the Penmen the game's biggest advantage at 34-30. A reverse lay-up by Leclerc and two Jacques free throws reduced the differential to eight, 34-26, at the half.
Bentley, which was playing without injured leading scorer Brian Tracey, used a 12-4 spurt over the first eight minutes of the second to even the count at 38-all. After the Penmen, who missed 10 of their first 11 shot attempts of the second half, briefly regained the lead, a Kettl lay-up knotted the score at 40-40. It stayed that way for more than two minutes until back-to-back three-balls from junior Josh Morgan-Green (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Cory Vejraska (Alachua, Fla.) put SNHU up 46-40.
Jacques, whose previous high of 16 came in Tuesday's win over Saint Anselm, was 6 of 13 from the field, with three treys, and four of six from the line. He also had six rebounds (sharing the team-lead with Leclerc), four assists and a steal. Dowling followed with 11 points off the bench, and both Fremeau and Quinn contributed seven points.
Vejraska and freshman Nikola Canic (Belgrade, Serbia) each had 15 points to lead Southern New Hampshire, but received very little offensive help from their teammates. Those two were a combined 13 of 18, but the rest of the club was just 7 of 38 for 20 points.
Both teams shot 36 percent and made six three-pointers, but Bentley had the edge at the line, attempting 10 more (17-7) and making six more (10-4). The Falcons also committed three fewer turnovers (10-13) and had an 11-6 advantage in second-chance points.
The number of unbeaten NE-10 teams will be down to one after Wednesday night as the Falcons visit UMass-Lowell (7:30 pm).
At Manchester, N.H. (SNHU Fieldhouse)
BENTLEY 54, SO. NEW HAMPSHIRE 50
BENTLEY (4-2, 3-0 NE-10) -- Greg Jacques 6-13 4-6 19; Tom Dowling 3-11 4-5 11; Joe Fremeau 3-6 1-2 7; Mike Quinn 3-7 0-0 7; Sam Leclerc 2-6 0-0 4; Jasper Grassa 1-2 0-0 3; Kevin Kettl 1-3 1-2 3; Mike Topercer 0-2 0-0 0; Dan O'Keefe 0-3 0-2 0. Totals 19-53 10-17 54.
SO. NEW HAMPSHIRE (2-3, 0-3 NE-10) -- Cory Vejraska 7-11 0-1 15; Nikola Canic 6-7 0-0 15; Tory Stapleton 2-9 4-6 8; Josh Morgan-Green 3-9 0-0 8; Marcus Matthews 1-3 0-0 2; Greg DeSantis 1-11 0-0 2; Lucas Croteau 0-2 0-0 0; Corey Boland 0-4 0-0 0; Billy Marsden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-56 4-7 50.
Halftime: SNHU 34-26; 3-point goals--B 6-21 (Jacques 3-7; Quinn 1-3; Grassa 1-2; Dowling 1-6; Topercer 0-1; Leclerc 0-2), SNH 6-23 (Canic 3-4; Morgan-Green 2-7; Vejraska 1-5; DeSantis 0-5; Croteau 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--B 36 (Jacques, Leclerc 6), SNH 40 (DeSantis 8). Assists--B 9 (Jacques 4), SNH 12 (DeSantis 4). Total fouls--Bentley 12, SNH 18. Technical fouls--None.