WALTHAM, Mass. – Freshman forward James Cambronne (De Bary, Fla.) scored a career-best 13 points in 10 very productive minutes off the bench and junior Travis Warech (Pine Brook, N.J.) matched him in the scoring column as St. Michael's College ended Bentley University's three-game winning streak, 67-59 in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, which struggled through a 35-percent shooting night, fell to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the NE-10. St. Michael's moved into a six-way tie for first in the congested NE-10 standings, improving to 3-4 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
Runs of 8-2 and 10-3, sandwiched around a 13-5 St. Michael's spurt, helped Bentley open a 23-18 lead with 7:42 left until halftime. Three-pointers played a significant role in the Falcons taking the early lead as five different Falcons connected from outside the three-point line during the first 12-plus minutes.
The rest of the first half saw Bentley misfire on 12 of 13 shots, with the team's only points over the final 7:30 coming on a driving lay-up by sophomore guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) with 4:15 left and two free throws from freshman guard J.P. Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA) four-tenths of a second before the halftime buzzer.
While Bentley was struggling offensively and on the boards, St. Michael's scored as many points in the final seven-and-a-minutes as it did in the game's first 12:30, and went into the break up nine, 36-27.
St. Michael's lead peaked at 16, 53-37, midway through the second half and the Purple Knights were still up 13 with 4:57 remaining.
The Falcons came alive at that juncture, putting up 11 unanswered to draw within two, 59-57, with 2:37 left. Grassa led the way with two triples, senior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) also connected from downtown and senior forward Kevin Kettl (Hershey, Pa./Hershey HS) scored on a put-back.
A short jumper by Cambronne ended the Falcon run, and after a pair of Bentley misses from three, sophomore guard Michael Holton, Jr. (Portland, Ore.) sank a pair from the line to make it a 63-57 game with 29.8 seconds left. A driving lay-up from Leclerc with 21.7 seconds left reduced the deficit to four, but Holton, who was kept in check most of the night, made two more from the stripe to lock up the SMC win.
Grassa led Bentley with 19 points, most coming via five three-pointers, and four rebounds. Senior forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS) followed with 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting but was shut out on the boards, and Leclerc finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Cambronne made six of ten shots to pick up the scoring load from Holton, whose 12 points was about seven below his norm. He made only four of 15 shots, but contributed with eight rebounds and four assists.
St. Michael's made 12 of 18 two-pointers in the second half and finished the game at 45 percent overall. The Purple Knights were a plus-11 in rebounds, 44-33, and also had nine more free throw attempts (13-4).
Bentley will look to get back on track Saturday when it hosts Southern New Hampshire, also 2-2 in conference play, at 3:30 pm.