COLCHESTER, Vt. - Senior forward Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Heritage HS) matched his career scoring best with 26 points as hot-shooting Bentley University returned from a three-week lay-off to extend its winning streak to nine with a 77-71 win over St. Michael's College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Sunday afternoon at the Ross Sports Center.
Both teams had an outstanding shooting afternoon with Bentley, tied for 24th in the Division II rankings, shooting 68.3 percent overall, including a five-of-seven effort from three, and St. Michael's connecting on 14 three-pointers, hitting 58 percent from beyond the arc.
Bentley, alone in first place in the NE-10 with a one-game lead over American International, improved to 9-2 overall and 7-0 in the conference. St. Michael's saw its overall record slide to 3-7 after its fifth loss in six NE-10 contests.
Bentley, despite its outstanding shooting, found itself in a tie game at 61-all with seven minutes to play following after the fifth second-half three-pointer by St. Michael's junior guard Tom Ward (East Sussex, England).
A jumper by junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) with 6:06 left broke the deadlock and a fall-away jumper from senior guard Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side HS) put the Falcons up 65-61 with 4:39 left.
St. Michael's drew within one when freshman guard Michael Holton, Jr. (Portland, Ore.) connected from downtown with 4:13 remaining. After Bentley sophomore forward Dan O'Keefe (Lexington, Mass./Lexington HS) and Holton traded baskets, the Falcons went up four when grad student Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Montville HS) nailed a three-ball with 3:07 left.
After a Purple Knight basket, Tracey scored on a drive to the hole, was fouled and completed the three-point play, pushing the Falcon lead to five with 1:27 on the clock. Quinn rebounded a Purple Knight miss, was fouled and knocked down both from the line with 47.2 seconds left to make it a three-possession game, 75-68 with 47.2 seconds left. Free throws by Tracey and Dowling in the final 33 seconds locked up the victory.
Bentley made its first six shots in the game, with four points each from Tracey and senior forward Joe Fremeau (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) helping the Falcons to a 16-6 lead. St. Michael's countered with a 14-2 surge to go up two at 20-18, with five different players providing the points.
A run of 10 straight points, including a Fremeau three-point play, put Bentley back in front at 31-22, and the Falcons went into the break up seven at 37-30.
Bentley extended the lead to 12, 53-41, less than eight minutes into the second, but Ward's hot shooting enabled St.Michael's to get back into the contest.
Bentley shot 64 percent (13-19) in the first half and bettered that in the second, hitting 14 of 19 shots for a 74 percent success rate. St. Michael's only made 40 percent of its two-point attempts, but sank 14 of 24 from outside the arc. Ward (20 points) was six of eight, Holden was four of eight and sophomore Travis Warech (Pine Brook, N.J.) nailed four of seven three-balls.
With both teams shooting so well, there weren't many rebounds to be had, but when there was, Bentley dominated in that department. The Falcons finished with a plus-17 on the boards with St. Michael's only getting 14 rebounds all afternoon.
Tracey achieved his third career 26-point game on 10-of-14 shooting. Quinn followed with 12 points and O'Keefe gave Bentley 10 points and four rebounds off the bench.
Ward led four double-figure scorers for St. Michael's, which saw senior Nate Birr (Burnsville, Minn.) deliver 13 assists.
Bentley is back at home Wednesday night for a 7:30 encounter with New Haven.
At Colchester, Vt. (Ross Sports Center)
BENTLEY 77, SAINT MICHAEL'S 71
BENTLEY (9-2, 7-0 NE-10) -- Brian Tracey 10-14 5-7 26; Mike Quinn 4-5 2-3 12; Dan O'Keefe 2-4 6-6 10; Joe Fremeau 4-6 1-1 9; Greg Jacques 3-4 0-0 7; Tom Dowling 2-3 1-2 5; Jasper Grassa 1-1 0-0 3; Sam Leclerc 1-2 0-0 2; Kevin Kettl 1-1 0-0 2; Mike Topercer 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 28-41 16-21 77.
SAINT MICHAEL'S (3-7, 1-5 NE-10) -- Tom Ward 6-11 2-3 20; Travis Warech 6-12 2-2 18; Michael Holton, Jr. 6-13 0-0 16; Tyler Schilling 5-6 0-2 10; Chris Hurley 2-5 0-0 4; Nate Birr 1-5 0-0 2; Derek Knutty 0-2 1-2 1; Kareem Amedu 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-54 5-9 71.
Halftime: B 37-30; 3-point goals--B 5-7 (Quinn 2-2; Grassa 1-1; Tracey 1-2; Jacques 1-1; Leclerc 0-1), SM 14-24 (Ward 6-8; Holton, Jr. 4-8; Warech 4-7; Birr 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--B 31 (Dowling; Quinn 5), SM 14 (Warech 5). Assists--B 13 (Leclerc 4), SM 23 (Birr 13). Total fouls--B 11, SM 18. Technical fouls-- None.