WALTHAM, Mass. -- Junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) scored a team-high 10 points, senior post Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Heritage HS) claimed 12 rebounds and grad student Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Montville HS) helped with seven steals and nine points as Bentley University used another outstanding defensive effort to top Stonehill College, 58-45, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley remained the only Northeast-10 team with an unblemished conference record, improving to 7-2 overall and 6-0 NE-10 with its sixth straight win. Stonehill, which ended the Falcons' five-year reign as NE-10 regular season champions last winter, fell to 5-3 overall and 3-3 conference.
Coach Jay Lawson's club entered the night holding conference opponents to just 51.4 points, a .342 field goal percentage and less than nine free throw attempts per game.
The Falcons improved on each of those numbers against the Skyhawks with Stonehill becoming the third NE-10 team to be held in the forties by the Bentley defense. The visitors finished with a .340 field goal percentage and got to the line just six times, making only four of those.
Both teams had trouble scoring at the start, but after falling behind by four early, Bentley used a 12-2 spurt to open a 14-8 lead midway through the first. Quinn had a couple lay-ups during that stretch, and the Falcons received three-pointers from a pair of sophomores, Dan O'Keefe (Lexington/Lexington HS) and Greg Jacques (Brockton/St. Sebastian's HS).
Bentley went into the break up 13 at 29-16, after a half-ending 10-2 run. Quinn and Leclerc both connected from three, and O'Keefe and Tracey also provided points.
In the second half, Stonehill made it a two-possession game four times, coming as close as 38-34 with nearly 10 minutes still on the game clock. On top by six, Bentley used two free throws by freshman guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/ Lynn Classical HS), a lay-up from senior forward Joe Fremeau (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) and a six-foot runner by Grassa to push the lead to a dozen, 51-39, with 5:17 left.
Five free throws, in six attempts, by senior guard Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side HS), in the final 80 seconds locked up the victory.
Leclerc and Quinn were followed in the scoring column by Tracey and Dowling, both with nine points. The game's top scorer and rebounder was Stonehill senior forward Mike Kernan (Medford, N.J.), with 14 points and 13 boards.
Bentley shot .465 overall, buried seven three-pointers and both made and attempted seven more free throws than Stonehill, finishing seven of 13. The Falcons also came up with a season-best 15 steals, with six of Quinn's coming in the opening half.
Bentley will close out the 2010 portion of the schedule Sunday, playing a 3 pm non-conference affair at the University of Bridgeport before embarking on a 20-day holiday and exam break.
At Waltham, Mass. (Dana Center)
BENTLEY 58, STONEHILL 45
STONEHILL (5-3, 3-3 NE-10) -- Mike Kernan 5-12 3-4 14; Sam Markle 3-8 0-0 7; Brian Hamor 2-11 0-0 6; Patrick Lee 2-4 1-2 5; Ivan Almeida 2-7 0-0 4; Daniel Heppert 2-6 0-0 4; Andre Tongo 1-3 0-0 3; Adam Fazzini 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 18-53 4-6 45.
BENTLEY (7-2, 6-0 NE-10) -- Sam Leclerc 3-7 2-2 10; Mike Quinn 4-6 0-0 9; Tom Dowling 1-3 7-8 9; Brian Tracey 4-8 0-0 9; Jasper Grassa 2-3 2-2 7; Greg Jacques 2-6 0-0 5; Dan O'Keefe 2-3 0-0 5; Joe Fremeau 2-7 0-1 4; Kevin Kettl 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-43 11-13 58.
Halftime: B 29-16; 3-point goals--S 5-20 (Hamor 2-9; Tongo 1-3; Markle 1-3; Kernan 1-1; Fazzini 0-1; Heppert 0-1; Almeida 0-2), B 7-18 (Leclerc 2-4; Jacques 1-4; Grassa 1-2; Tracey 1-2; Quinn 1-3; O'Keefe 1-2; Dowling 0-1). Fouled out-- Heppert. Rebounds--S 31 (Kernan 13), B 31 (Tracey 11). Assists--S 10 (Kernan 3), B 8 (Quinn 3). Total fouls--S 14, B 12. Technical fouls-- None.