WALTHAM, Mass. – Following its first loss to Pace University in nine seasons, the Bentley University men's basketball team will look to get back on the winning track Wednesday night when the Falcons pay a visit to American International College. Tip-off at Butova Gym is set for 7:30 pm.
Despite the loss to the Setters, Bentley's distance from top of the very balanced Northeast-10 Conference standings remained at one game as first-place Adelphi University dropped a 64-55 decision to Merrimack College.
However, the number of teams tied for second, including the Falcons, grew from three to five. Like Adelphi and Bentley, Franklin Pierce and New Haven were also denied in their bid for their 11th win. Meanwhile, Pace and Stonehill each notched their sixth win in nine conference games to draw even with the other three in the NE-10 standings.
Coach Jay Lawson's club, when it faces AIC, will be looking to put together two solid halves of basketball, something it hasn't done in its last three conference games. Pace outscored the Falcons 46-29 in the second half of the 84-74 loss, and in wins over Stonehill and Assumption, the Falcons trailed at the break 28-17 and 28-14, respectively, before coming alive after intermission.
Bentley will make the trek to Springfield for Wednesday's game with a 73.7 scoring average, fourth best in the NE-10, and a conference-high 133 three-pointers. Guards Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) and Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS), the team's top two scorers, are the top threats from downtown with Grassa's 40 treys second in the NE-10 and Leclerc's .455 accuracy mark from outside the arc fifth best in the conference among those making at least two a game.
Grassa averages 15.1 points a game and is fourth in the conference in free throw percentage (.848). Leclerc follows at 14.2 ppg and junior forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS) is Bentley's third double-figure scorer, averaging 13.8 as well as a team-best 6.8 rebounds.
Off the bench, freshman forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) connects at a 45 percent clip from three and is averaging just a shade under ten a game.
AIC has dropped its last four to fall to 4-9 overall (2-7 NE-10) but has had more success on its home court than away this season. Three of the four wins have come at Butova, including an early-season 66-62 victory over Pace.
The Yellow Jackets have averaged only 50.5 points during the current slide, and for the season, score a conference-low 58.3 points per game.
Sophomores Spencer Braithwaite and David Campbell are the team's top scorers, with averages of 12.5 and 12.3 respectively. Braithwaite leads the team in assists (41), and Campbell tops the Jackets in rebounds (6.9 average).
After facing AIC, Bentley will return to the Dana Center for a two-game homestand, beginning Saturday against Saint Rose.