MANCHESTER, N.H. – Following a costly Bentley turnover, a short jumper by Saint Anselm College junior guard Roy Mabrey (Belmar, N.J.) off an inbound play with about ten seconds left reversed a one-point deficit and gave the Hawks a 79-78 win over the Falcons in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 Conference Championships Sunday afternoon at Stoutenburgh Gym.
Saint Anselm, the regular season champion in the Northeast Division, improved to 20-6 and advanced to Wednesday's semifinals, while Bentley, the Northeast's fifth seed, saw its season end at 18-11.
Bentley, which trailed by as many as 18 in the first half, battled back throughout the second half and had a one-point lead with the ball with 11.7 seconds to play. The Falcons inbounded once and Mabrey quickly fouled, and since the Hawks weren't over the limit, they had to inbound again. This time, an errant pass went out of bounds untouched and the ball went over to Saint Anselm.
Senior point guard Dino Mallios (Winthrop, Mass.) was able to get the ball in for the Hawks, hitting Mabrey for what proved to be the game-winning basket. The Falcons drove down the court, but a runner by senior guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn, Mass./Lynn Classical HS) was off the mark and Saint Anselm escaped with the win.
While Bentley was plagued by turnovers early (five in the first five minutes, one more than they had in total during Friday's first round win at Saint Rose), Saint Anselm wasn't missing from downtown. The Hawks connected on 11 of 16 three-pointers, a sizzling 69 percent success rate, in the first 16-plus minutes to open a 43-25 lead.
Down 17 after Saint Anselm sophomore forward Mike McGahey (Clarkstown, N.Y.) drained his team's 12th triple to start the second half scoring, Bentley battled back with a 15-5 spurt to get within seven with just under 14 minutes to play. Junior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS) led that surge with eight points.
A 9-2 spurt that featured both a three-pointer and a traditional three-point play by junior forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) brought Bentley to within one, 63-62, with 9:14 left. Sophomore guard Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Wells HS) nailed two free throws to tie the game with 5:41 on the clock, and the Falcons took their first lead since then game's opening minute when sophomore forward Shaq Phelps (Linden, N.J./Linden HS) stuck a three 23 seconds later.
Following a couple lead changes and a stretch of nearly two minutes in which neither team scored, Hyland put Bentley back in front with a basket with 17 seconds left, 78-77. Sophomore forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) drew a charge for the Falcons at the other end and the stage was set for what turned out to be a disappointing finish to the Bentley season.
McFarland led Bentley with 20 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals, and Grassa followed with 16 in his final collegiate game. He finished his career with 1,370 points, 21st on the Falcons' all-time list, and a school record 285 three-pointers.
Hyland put up 14 points and six rebounds, and Furness finished with eight points, seven rebounds and five assists.
McCahey topped four double-figure scorers for Saint Anselm with 20 points, senior guard John Nielsen (Port Jefferson, N.J.) tallied 18 and Mabrey's game-winner gave him 17.
Bentley shot 50 percent and hit eight of 15 three-balls in the second half, and outshot the Hawks overall, 45-44 percent. The Falcons made 11 more free throws, but committed three more turnovers (14-11) and gave up four more threes (14-10).