WALTHAM, Mass. – The final crossover game of the season for the Bentley University men's basketball team will be Saturday afternoon when the Falcons begin the February portion of the schedule at the Dana Center against the Pace University Setters. Tip-off is scheduled at 3:30 pm with a webcast available on the NE10 NOW Digital Network (www.NE10NOW.tv and www.bentleyfalcons.tv).
Neither January or NE10 crossover play were kind to the Falcons. They were 4-4 during the month and have been 2-4 against the conference's Southwest Division after dropping four of their last five.
Despite that, coach Jay Lawson's club comes into February with a 15-5 overall record and tied for second in the NE10 Northeast Division at 8-5. The Falcons are 10-1 in the Dana Center where they have averaged 82.9 points and shot 51 percent.
Pace will travel from New York with a 13-8 record and a two-game winning streak. The Setters, fifth in the Southwest Division with a 7-6 conference record, have dropped their last four away from home where they are 10-3 on the year.
It's been another standout season for Bentley senior Ryan Richmond (Toronto, Ont./ Thomson Collegiate), who set a school record last year when he averaged 23.6 points per game. The All-Region guard is currently leading the conference at 23.2 a game, which is the 11th highest nationally among Division II players.
Richmond, fourth on Bentley's all-time points list with 1,877, has averaged 30.3 points in his last four games, a stretch in which he's been 41 of 75 from the field, 14 of 29 from deep and 25 of 27 at the foul line.
Richmond is shooting over .500 for the season, as are junior forward Chris Hudson (Hodgdon, Maine/Williston Northampton) and sophomore guard Colton Lawrence (Myerstown, Pa./ELCO HS). Hudson is at a team-best .519 and averages 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds. Lawrence follows Hudson in all three categories with his numbers .505 from the floor, 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Bentley's starting five also includes senior forward Zach Gilpin (Hampden, Maine/Hampden Academy) and sophomore guard Jordan Mello-Klein (Sharon/Thayer Academy). Both have made at least 44 percent of their threes this season with Gilpin averaging 9.8 points and Mello-Klein 9.1.
The Falcons will enter February as the only team in the conference shooting at least 49 percent overall, 41 percent from three and 81 percent at the line.
No team gets to the foul line more than Pace and the Setters are also one of the conference leaders in offensive rebounds, averaging 11.2 a game. Coach Matt Healing's team attempts 22.4 free throws a game with both six-foot-seven junior Peyton Weinert and sophomore guard Brandon Jacobs two of the six players in the NE10 who have attempted at least 100.
The team's proclivity for getting to the line is in direct contrast to Bentley, which allows only 12 free throw attempts a game.
Weinert, whose 187 charity tosses ranks third nationally in Division II, is having a strong season, averaging 17.5 points and 8.1 rebounds. Jacobs follows at 16.0 points and is fourth in the NE10 in assists with 128.
Like Bentley, Pace relies heavily on its starting five for its scoring. Ninety percent of the Setters' points have come from the starters and the Falcon starters have accounted for 86 percent of Bentley's offense.
Last year down in Pleasantville, N.Y., Richmond made both a tying and a go-ahead free throw with 1:21 left to complete the scoring in a 75-74 Falcon win over Pace.
Bentley will also be at home on Wednesday when they'll take on Stonehill in the first of seven straight divisional games to complete the regular season. That game will be broadcast over the NCAA Facebook and NCAA Twitter pages as part of the NCAA Division II Showcase, and will tip at 7:35 pm.