Grassa Scores 25 as Bentley Uses Strong Second Half to Best Bloomfield, 83-74

Jasper Grassa
Jasper Grassa

WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) scored a career-high 25 points, including the first six of a late and decisive 8-0 run, as the Bentley University men's basketball team rallied in the second half for an 83-74 win over Bloomfield College in the final game of the Bentley Tip-Off Classic Saturday night at the Dana Center.

Bentley, which had dropped a 75-71 decision to the Deacons in the NCAA Division II East Region final last March, improved to 2-0 with the come-from-behind win.  Bloomfield dipped to 0-2 on the year despite having a 79-55 advantage in field goal attempts.

The Falcons, down 44-40 at the break, scored the first nine points after play resumed and never gave up the lead once taking it. Junior forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS) opened the second half scoring with a jumper and senior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) followed with a three-ball to put Bentley in front, 45-44.

The run continued with lay-ups by junior guard Greg Jacques (Brockton/St. Sebastian's HS) and Grassa making it 49-44.

The 9-0 start grew into a larger 19-5 run. Included were consecutive threes from Grassa and Leclerc that made it 59-49 with 14:25 remaining.

After the visitors closed to within one at 63-62, freshman forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/ Thornton Academy) buried a trey and senior forward Kevin Kettl (Hershey, Pa./Hershey HS) converted a three-point play to restore the Falcon advantage to seven.

Bloomfield had one more comeback left and drew within four, 70-66 with 3:57 left, after a pair of free throws from senior guard Ahmad Harris (Linden, N.J.).  Grassa took over the next minute as he nailed a three from the left wing, came up with a steal at the defensive end and knocked down another triple, this one from the left corner. That flurry returned the lead to double figures, and Leclerc followed with two free throws to give Bentley its biggest lead of the night, 78-66 with 2:18 left.

Bloomfield built its first-half lead on the strength of 19 extra field goal attempts, mostly as the result of 14 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points. A huge advantage at the line (15-0 in attempts) helped the Falcons counter that and stay close.

Grassa, who had 29 in an exhibition win against Bishop's (Canada) a week ago, made eight of 11 shots overall, including five of eight from outside the arc, and was perfect on four free throw attempts. He also contributed five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Leclerc and O'Keefe each followed with 14 points, and Shaw contributed with a dozen points, on 5-of-7 shooting, off the bench. Jacques finished with nine points and eight rebounds, and Kettl had a seven-point, nine-rebound night.

Bloomfield also had four in double figures with sophomore guard Terry Hicks (Neptune, N.J.) topping the list with 18 points, along with three steals. Harris was one of three with 12 points and he also delivered eight assists.

Bentley shot 45 percent to Bloomfield's 37 percent, made three more trifectas (11-8) and was a plus-14 in free throws made (22-28 as compared to 8-11). The Deacons dominated the boards, 47-37, and turned 24 offensive rebounds into 25 points.

Bentley continues its four-game season-opening homestand Wednesday when it hosts Northeast-10 preseason favorite UMass-Lowell in the conference opener.

In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, Merrimack College cruised past Felician College, 87-53, outscoring the Golden Falcons by 17 in each half. Senior guard Roland Davis (Deer Park, N.Y.) led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds.