NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Twenty-three Bentley University turnovers led to 30 Merrimack College points and the Warriors went on to post a 72-60 wire-to-wire win over the visiting Falcons in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball on Hammel Court Tuesday night.
Sophomore guard Juvaris Hayes (Paterson, N.J.) led Merrimack in the win as he came within one steal of a triple-double, finishing with 16 points and a dozen rebounds.
The win was the fifth straight for the Warriors, who improved to 9-3 overall and 6-1 NE10. Bentley fell to 6-4 overall and 4-3 conference after suffering its third straight loss.
A large portion of the Falcon turnover issues came in the first half with Merrimack scoring exactly half of its 46 points off 14 turns. Nine different players were guilty of at least one giveaway with Bentley going into the halftime break down 16.
Hayes had a huge opening half with 12 points, nine assists, seven steals and no turns while playing all 20 minutes.
Offensive rebounds were also costly for the Falcons in the half with Merrimack enjoying an 11-0 advantage in second chance points.
The turnovers continued for Bentley in the second half with nine in the first ten minutes. At that point, the difference was still 16, 58-42.
Bentley, which didn't have a turnover in the final ten minutes, reduced the differential to nine with 5:40 left on the strength of a 9-3 lead. Junior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) scored the first four, junior guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate) hit a top-of-the-key three and senior forward Brandon Wheeler (Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic HS) scored on a second-chance basket.
Merrimack responded with five unanswered, including a three from the right wing by sophomore Devon Moore (Hanover, Pa.), and the Falcons never got closer than 11 again.
Wheeler led Bentley with 12 points and the same number of rebounds as he made five of six shots. Sophomore guard Seth Stankiewicz (Reading, Pa./Reading HS) scored 11 off the bench, and Richmond was held to ten, less than half his season norm.
Freshman guard Khalief Crawford (Linden, N.J) led Merrimack in scoring with 18 points, and Moore was the third Warrior in double figures, with 11 off the bench.
Bentley had a higher field goal percentage (.469-.406) and was plus-ten on the boards (39-29), but as a result of 14 more turnovers, took 15 fewer shots than Merrimack. In addition to a 30-8 advantage in points off, the Warriors outscored the Falcons 13-4 on second-chance opportunities and 14-2 on the fast break.
Bentley will have 16 days off before hosting Dominican College on Dec. 29.