WALTHAM, Mass. – Sole possession of first place in the Northeast-10 Conference's Northeast Division will be at stake when the Bentley University men's basketball team hosts Southern New Hampshire University Wednesday night at the Dana Center. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 pm with a free webcast available at www.bentleyfalcons.tv.
The two clubs have combined for records of 14-1 overall and 9-0 NE10 to date. Bentley returned from a weekend trip to Vermont at 6-1 overall and 4-0 NE10 following an 80-61 victory over St. Michael's. Southern New Hampshire, 8-0 for the first time since 2003-04 and ranked 14th in the D2SIDA media poll, has won its first five conference contests.
Bentley, since dropping a five-point decision to Jefferson (formerly Philadelphia), has won its last three games by an average of 26.3 points. Coach Jay Lawson's club has shot over .500 in all six wins and has outrebounded its opponents in every game.
At St. Michael's, the Falcons connected at a .517 clip and claimed 10 offensive rebounds, which they turned into a 15-0 advantage in second chance points.
Junior guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate), the current NE10 Player of the Week, scored 26 points against the Purple Knights while also helping out with five rebounds and four assists. He's averaged 24.7 points during the current three-game winning streak while shooting 59 percent from the floor.
Richmond, currently 95 points away from 1,000, is averaging 21.9 points overall and is the NE10's top scorer in conference play, netting 25.8 a game.
Richmond is immediately followed on the scoring list by sophomore guard Seth Stankiewicz (Reading, Pa./Reading HS), whose .643 accuracy rate from three-point territory ranks second nationally in Division II. He scores 12.2 ppg while playing 18 minutes a game off the bench and has made 14 of 21 from deep in the last four.
Junior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) and freshman guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/Thayer Academy) are Bentley's other double-figure scorers, with averages of 12.0 and 10.1, respectively. Gilpin has put up over 15 points a game in conference play and Mello-Klein has shot .600 in his first seven collegiate games.
Senior forward Brandon Wheeler (Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic HS) leads the team in rebounding for the second straight year, averaging 7.4 after reaching double digits in three of the last four games.
Southern New Hampshire, coming off a 76-65 win over Assumption, features the prolific scoring trio of All-Conference graduate forward Chris Walters, senior guard Dimitri Floras and junior guard Daquaise Andrews. Combined, they have scored 72 percent of the Penmen points so far this season.
Walters, who has scored at least 24 six times in eight games, leads the Penmen at 22.6 points, third best in the NE10, and 8.4 rebounds. Floras follows at 17.9, including 21 without coming out of the game against Assumption, and Andrews adds 17.6 points a game to the SNHU offense while matching Walters in the rebounding column.
In addition to their scoring, all three have at least 20 assists and 14 steals this season, and Walters has blocked 17 shots. SNHU had 74 steals this season, nearly double Bentley's total of 38.
Bentley will also be at home against a team from New Hampshire Saturday, taking on Saint Anselm College at 3:30 pm.