WALTHAM, Mass. – After completing the non-conference portion of the schedule Friday night with a 22-point win over Concordia College (N.Y.), the Bentley University men's basketball team will turn its focus back to Northeast-10 Conference play when it hosts Assumption College Tuesday night at the Dana Center. Tip off for the second half of an NE-10 doubleheader is set for 7:30 pm.
Bentley, despite losing three 1,000-point scorers and a total of four starters from last year's NE-10 regular season championship team, is off to a 9-2 start and begins 2012 with a four-game winning streak. The Falcons are one of four teams tied for second in the Northeast-10, all a game back of Adelphi University.
Assumption, under first-year head coach Matt Maher, is off to a 6-5 start, including 4-3 in the NE-10. Two of the wins have come in overtime, including Friday's against Holy Family, and six of the 11 have been decided by four points or less.
Three-pointers have always been a major part of Bentley's offense (at least 200 made treys each of the last 16 seasons), but perhaps never more than this season. The Falcons are making 10.7 threes a game, sporting their highest three-point accuracy mark since 1996, and have knocked down at least ten triples in seven straight games for the first time in the program's history.
The three-point barrage is led by guards Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) and Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS), two of the six NE-10 players who have made at least 30 this season. Grassa's 37 three-pointers is a conference-high total, and Leclerc follows with 30. Freshman forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) has come off the bench to knock down 21, his .488 accuracy ranking fifth in the NE-10.
Bentley has also done a good job defending the three with the opponents shooting only .300 from outside the arc, making only 6.4 a game. The Falcons' last four opponents are only a combined 17 of 70 from downtown.
Grassa, a sophomore, leads the team in scoring at 15.3 ppg, following a career-best 28-point effort Friday against Concordia. Leclerc, a senior, follows at 14.7 and is one of the conference's top defensive rebounders. After back-to-back games with 24 and 26 points, he only scored nine points against Concordia, but flirted with a triple-double with 12 rebounds and eight assists, both career-bests.
Junior forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS), who tied his career-high with 19 points against Concordia, is the team's other double-figure scorer (13.9) as well as the Falcons' top rebounder (6.8). Shaw leads the non-starters in scoring, netting 9.9 a game while averaging less than 18 minutes of playing time.
Assumption comes into the Dana Center as one of the NE-10's top rebounding teams, claiming six more a game than they allow. The Greyhounds shoot the ball well, with their .465 field goal percentage second in the NE-10, and lead the conference in assists per game (18.5). Free throws have not been plentiful as they make only 9.5 per game.
Senior guard Kevin Donahue and junior forward Tim Beinert are the team's top scorers, averaging 16.4 and 13.5 points respectively. Donahue has connected on a team-best 31 threes, and Beinert has made 63 percent of his shots in NE-10 contests (62 percent overall).
Assumption also features the conference assist leader, junior guard Ryan Rozsnaki handing out more than seven a game.
This week's Bentley schedule also includes a trip to Pleasantville, N.Y. for a Saturday matinee at Pace University.