WALTHAM, Mass. -- Graduate student Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Montville HS) filled the stat sheet, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block, and the Falcon defense held Merrimack College to 31 percent shooting as Bentley University claimed its first win of the season, 62-47 in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, ranked seventh in the preseason NABC Division II coaches poll and the preseason favorite in the conference, bounced back from two season-opening losses to win its NE-10 opener and improve to 1-2 overall. Merrimack, number 22 in the preseason rankings, suffered its first loss after having beaten convincingly the same two teams that defeated the Falcons, Bloomfield and Concordia.
Merrimack, which had put up 55 points in three of its four halves of play over the weekend, was limited to less than half of that over 40 minutes by the Falcon D. The Warriors connected at just a 24 percent clip following intermission and were just 2 of 18 from three for the night.
Bentley, en route to its 14th consecutive win in the series, didn't shoot a lot better, finishing at .348, but made the shots when it counted and knocked down nine three-pointers.
Four of those triples came during a 14-2 second-half spurt that extended a two-point advantage to 14, 51-37 with about 11 minutes remaining. Sophomore forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS) connected from downtown, junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) did the same off an inbound play, and Quinn sank a pair from outside the arc.
Merrimack never came closer than 10 the rest of the way and was limited to only two points over the contest's final six minutes. While the Warriors were being shut down, Bentley locked up the win with a Leclerc driving lay-up and a banked-in Quinn triple that made it 60-45 with 2:45 left.
In the first half, Bentley also relied on the three to take the lead. Down 16-12, the Falcons turned the game around with an 11-2 run and never gave up the lead the rest of the night. That flurry included two of the three first-half treys made by sophomore guard Greg Jacques (Brockton/St. Sebastian's HS) and the first career triple (and basket) by freshman guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS).
Joining Quinn in doubles were senior forward Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Heritage HS) and Jacques. Tracey finished with 12 points and eight boards, and Jacques led Bentley's bench domination, scoring 10 points. For the game, the Falcon reserves outscored the Merrimack non-starters, 24-0.
Bentley had a slight edge on the boards, with senior forward Joe Fremeau (Manchester, N.H./ Central HS) leading the way with a dozen, one shy of his career-best.
Merrimack junior forward Aaron Strothers (Wareham), coming off a 14 of 16 performance in Saturday's game against Bloomfield, made his first seven shots and finished with 16 points on 8-of-10 from the floor. Senior Darin Mency (Hagerstown, Md.), the NE-10 Player of the Week, was held to 12 points (4-19 shooting, 0-10 in the second half) but did match his career-high with 15 rebounds.
Bentley hits the road on Saturday, playing a 1:00 non-conference game at Post University.
At Waltham, Mass. (Dana Center)
BENTLEY 62, MERRIMACK 47
MERRIMACK (2-1, 0-1 NE-10) -- Aaron Strothers 8-10 0-0 16; Darin Mency 4-20 3-3 12; Tyler Young 3-6 1-2 7; Roland Davis 2-11 1-2 6; Wayne Mack 3-15 0-0 6; Adam Marshall 0-1 0-0 0; Wilfredo Pagan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-64 5-7 47.
BENTLEY (1-2, 1-0 NE-10) -- Mike Quinn 4-11 4-4 15; Brian Tracey 6-18 0-0 12; Greg Jacques 3-7 1-2 10; Sam Leclerc 4-8 0-0 9; Dan O'Keefe 3-12 0-0 7; Jasper Grassa 1-2 0-0 3; Joe Fremeau 1-2 0-0 2; Kevin Kettl 1-1 0-0 2; Tom Dowling 1-6 0-0 2; Mike Topercer 0-2 0-1 0. Totals 24-69 5-7 62.
Halftime: B 31-27; 3-point goals--M 2-18 (Davis 1-5; Mency 1-9; Mack 0-3; Marshall 0-1), B 9-30 (Jacques 3-6; Quinn 3-9; Leclerc 1-5; Grassa 1-2; O'Keefe 1-3; Dowling 0-2; Tracey 0-3). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--M 45 (Mency 15), B 47 (Fremeau 12). Assists--M 10 (Davis 6), B 15 (Quinn, Jacques, Dowling, Topercer 3). Total fouls--M 11, B 8. Technical fouls--None.