WALTHAM, Mass. – It will be a battle of unbeatens Saturday at Saint Anselm College's Stoutenburgh Gym when the Falcons put their 8-0 record and number 14 ranking in the latest NABC Division II coaches poll on the line against the 7-0 Hawks, who were ranked fourth in the same poll.
Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 pm and the game can be viewed on NE10NOW.tv.
Bentley kept its perfect record intact on Wednesday during the first its two trips to Manchester, N.H. this week. The Falcons were outshot for the first time this season and managed only four three-pointers, but used a game-ending 32-17 run to get by Southern New Hampshire, 89-82. They outscored the home team 27-8 at the charity stripe and finished with a positive rebound margin for the eighth straight game.
Coach Jay Lawson saw three of his players score at least 24 points with senior guard Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./Thomson Collegiate) at the top of the list with 28 points. Junior forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Northampton Williston School) followed with a career-best 26, along with 13 rebounds, and sophomore guard Colton Lawrence (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO HS) had his second 24-point game of the season.
Richmond, now tenth on Bentley's all-time scoring list and ten points away from 1,600 for his career, is averaging 22.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He gets to the line nearly eight times a game and has made an impressive 94 percent of those attempts, 59 of 63.
Lawrence's average is up to 16.8 points per game, as well as 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, and Hudson is scoring 14.5 a game while leading the Falcons in rebounds (8.8) and steals (1.3). Both are shooting 53 percent overall and 40 percent from three.
The team's other two starters, senior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) and sophomore guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/Thayer Academy), are a combined 22 of 40 from three and Mello-Klein is also 14 of 14 at the foul line.
Saint Anselm is coming off a 96-72 road win at Saint Michael's, a game in which the Hawks led by 21 at the half. All five starters scored in doubles for the second straight game and Coach Keith Dickson's squad scored 90-plus for the fifth time.
The Hawks feature senior guard and last year's NE10 Player of the Year Tim Guers, the conference's fifth leading scorer at 21.1. He's also in the top eight in the conference in average rebounds (8.2), assists (5.4) and steals (1.9). From three, Guers has connected at a .500 clip, 15 of 30.
All five Saint Anselm starters are averaging in doubles in the scoring column and shooting at least 50 percent. Sophomore Chris Paul is second to Guers in scoring at 15.9, and senior Cody Ball has dropped in 18 three-pointers.
Bentley and Saint Anselm are the two most prolific scoring teams in the conference with Saint Anselm's 89.3 slightly better than the Falcons' 88.5. Both teams are shooting 52 percent overall with the Falcons also hitting at a 47 percent success rate from three and 83 percent from the line.
Saint Anselm swept the Falcons in three meetings last year, including 87-80 in the NE10 semifinals. Richmond averaged 28.7 points, including 35 in the postseason matchup, and Guers produced 26.3 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the three meetings.
After facing the Hawks, Bentley will quickly turn its attention to preparing for Monday's non-conference home game with Saint Rose.