WEST HAVEN, Conn. – Freshman forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) nailed five three-pointers for 15 points, senior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) matched him in the scoring column, and junior guard Mike Topercer (Scottsdale, Ariz./New Hampton Prep) played a key role off the bench as Bentley University finished strong for a 66-54 win over the University of New Haven in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at Charger Gymnasium.
Bentley, which had been knocked out of a tie for first place by Adelphi on Tuesday, improved to 9-4 in the conference and 13-4 overall. New Haven, which began the day with an identical record to the Falcons, dipped to 8-5 NE-10 and 12-5 overall.
After a 14-footer from six-foot-eight freshman Eric Anderson (Newark, N.J.) gave New Haven its only lead of the second half (42-41, 11:10 left), the rest of the second half belonged the visitors. Bentley closed the game with a 25-12 run over the final 10:25, with seven of the Charger points coming in the final minute after the differential hit 13.
That closing run began with a 13-2 spurt fueled by Topercer. He scored on a drive to the basket to put Bentley back in front and followed with two free throws and a short jumper to make it 47-42 with 9:21 left.
Following a UNH basket, the Falcon run resumed with Shaw's fifth three-ball of the afternoon, a pair of free throws from junior forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington, Mass./Lexington HS) and a lay-up from senior forward Kevin Kettl (Hershey, Pa./Hershey HS). That produced the first double-digit lead since midway through the first half, 54-44 with 5:27 left.
With under three minutes left, Bentley embarked on a clinching 10-2 spurt that included four free throws from Leclerc and resulted in a 15-point bulge, 64-49 with 40.2 seconds left.
After the Chargers scored the first two baskets of the game, Bentley came alive with 12 unanswered points. Leclerc had five of the 12, including a three to begin the scoring for the Falcons and the run was capped by an O'Keefe three-ball. The lead peaked at 19-8 after a Shaw three, and was 24-16 with 6:45 left until intermission.
Bentley managed only one more point the rest of the half as it missed its final six shots and needed a free throw from junior guard Greg Jacques (Brockton, Mass./St. Sebastian's HS) to take a 25-24 lead into the break. Nine Falcon turns in the half were turned into a dozen New Haven points and helped the Chargers survive 30 percent shooting.
Sophomore guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn, Mass./Lynn Classical HS) scored the first five points of the second and Bentley stayed in front until the Anderson basket with 11:10 left.
Shaw needed only seven attempts to make his five three-pointers, and Leclerc's 15 including a six-for-six effort from the foul stripe. Both Maine natives also finished with four rebounds.
O'Keefe followed with 11 points and four rebounds, and Topercer finished with nine points and a career-best five assists in 21 minutes.
Sophomore guard Justin Exum (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led New Haven with 14 points and Anderson finished with 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Bentley took 15 fewer shots but made one more field goal by virtue of a .511 accuracy mark. The Falcons limited the Chargers to 37 percent shooting and for the first time in five January games, had the edge on the boards, 33-30, despite New Haven being one of the conference's top rebounding teams.
Bentley's next game is Wednesday at Le Moyne College.