EASTON. Mass. – Junior guard Greg Jacques (Brockton/St. Sebastian's HS) scored eight points during the second overtime and senior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) netted 22 of his career-high 26 points after halftime as Bentley University overcame an 18-point second-half deficit to best Stonehill College in double overtime, 73-66, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Merkert Gymnasium.
Bentley, which improved to 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the conference, earned the victory despite shooting only 14 percent in the first half and trailing 38-20 with 15:09 left. The Falcons were still down 14 with 12 minutes left and seven with less than a minute left in regulation.
The Falcon comeback in the final minute of the second half began with junior forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS) knocking down a three-pointer with 46.5 seconds left, and was aided by two misses on the front end of one-and-ones by Stonehill.
Leclerc grabbed the rebound on both missed free throws and then capitalized at the other end each time. A lay-up with 34.2 seconds left brought Bentley within two points, and on the next possession, he was fouled driving to the basket with 3.6 seconds left. He converted both from the stripe, tying the game at 53. The second-half clock expired before the Skyhawks were able to get a potential winning shot off.
Leclerc also came up big in the first OT after Stonehill had taken a four-point lead. He buried a top-of-the-key three with 53.1 seconds left to bring the Falcons within one, and after a Bentley defensive stop, drove to the basket for a go-ahead three-point play with seven and nine-tenths seconds remaining.
Stonehill's Brian Hamor (Schenectady, N.Y.) misfired on a potential game-winning three, but junior Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa.) was successful on the put-back with three-tenths of a second left, sending the game into a second extra session.
Jacques took over the first couple minutes of the second OT, beginning with a three-pointer with 4:22 left. He made it 66-61 with a driving lay-up with 3:47 left, came up with a steal on the next possession and made the first of two free throws with 3:33 on the block to extend the Falcon lead to six.
The lead drew to seven, 69-62, when Jacques sank two free throws with 51.7 seconds left. Senior guard Andre Tongo (Acton) made Stonehill's only basket of the second OT with about 33 seconds left, and on the ensuing inbound, O'Keefe was whistled for a flagrant one foul. Hamor sank the two free throws, cutting the differential to three. Stonehill retained possession, but Leclerc claimed the rebound on Hamor's missed lay-up.
Two free throws by Leclerc and junior guard Mike Topercer (Scottsdale, Ariz./New Hampton Prep) in the final 17 seconds locked up the victory for the Falcons.
Bentley's second-half comeback began with a seven-minute 17-2 run that featured two three-balls apiece from Leclerc and Topercer. That stretch, which saw Stonehill score on only one of ten possessions (1 of 7, 3 turns) brought the Falcons to within three, 40-37, with 8:13 left.
Leclerc, whose previous career-high of 24 points came on Wednesday night at Franklin Pierce, finished six of nine from the field, three of six from three-point land and 11 of 12 from the line with all of his misses coming during the first half. He also had a career-high 11 rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 46 minutes of action.
Jacques followed with 15 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals, and both O'Keefe and Topercer scored eight points. O'Keefe also set a new career-high with 14 rebounds.
Tongo led Stonehill (6-2, 5-2 NE-10) with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Neither team shot well, with Bentley finishing at 31 percent and Stonehill 32. The Falcons warmed up over the final 25 minutes, hitting 16 of their last 34 after starting 5 of 34. The Skyhawks, who were knocked out of a tie for first, was just 5 of 26 in the two overtime periods, including 0 for 10 from three.
Stonehill had the rebounding edge, 61-53, and Bentley had the big advantage in free throws, making 20 of 29. In fact, the Falcons missed as many free throws as Stonehill attempted, with the Skyhawks just one of four from the line in regulation.
Bentley has a lengthy exam and holiday lay-up before hosting Concordia College Dec. 30.