WALTHAM, Mass. -- Senior forward Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Heritage HS) scored 20 points, including the 1,200th of his career, and freshman guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) matched his career-high with 14 points, all in the final 11:11, as Bentley University ran its winning streak to 10 with a 61-56 win over the University of New Haven in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Wednesday night at the Dana Center.
It's the seventh straight year that Bentley, ranked 22nd in Division II, has enjoyed a double-digit winning streak. The Falcons improved to 10-2 overall, including 8-0 in the NE-10, and saw their lead in the conference standings climb to two games as second-place American International fell to Merrimack, 84-68.
With Grassa providing the spark off the bench, Bentley opened the game up midway through the second half with a 16-4 spurt extending a two-point lead to a game-high 14 at 55-41, with 7:37 left. The surge began with Grassa nailing a three from the right wing, grad student Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Montville HS) doing the same from the left wing and Grassa making three from the line after being fouled while shooting a three.
After New Haven senior Robert Jamerson (Forestville, Md.) momentarily slowed the Falcons with a lay-up, a Grassa jumper and a Tracey put-back pushed the difference to 13 at 52-39. Following a Charger lay-up, Grassa nailed another three-ball, capping the run.
New Haven battled back with seven unanswered points, including five from freshman guard Justin Exum (Brooklyn, N.Y.), to close to within seven, 55-48. Tracey ended Bentley's three-and-a-half minute drought by hitting one of two at the line with four minutes left, and about 35 seconds later, Grassa buried a three from the right side, restoring the lead to double figures at 59-48.
Difficulties at the foul line by Bentley down the stretch (three straight missed front ends of one-and-ones) allowed the Chargers to keep their hopes of a comeback alive. However, two free throws from senior guard Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side HS) with 14.1 seconds left locked up the victory.
Bentley trailed by as many as four in the first half, but closed the stanza with a 12-2 surge punctuated by a half-ending alley-oop dunk by Tracey from Quinn. Tracey, the 30th player in the program's history to eclipse 1,200 career points, had eight of his 14 first-half points during that closing run.
Tracey made seven of 11 shots overall, including four of his six three-pointers, and also provided eight rebounds and three assists. Grassa, who crammed his 14 points in 13 minutes of action, was four of eight with three triples.
Bentley also received nine points off the bench from Dowling, eight points, five boards and five helpers from Quinn, and nine rebounds from junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS).
Grassa wasn't the highest scoring freshman on the court, however. That distinction went to New Haven's Exum, who led all scorers with 23 points, 12 coming on four three-pointers. Jamerson followed with 14 points and nine boards for New Haven, which fell to 3-8 overall and 2-6 conference.
New Haven had the higher field goal percentage (43-40 percent), but Bentley nailed three more triples and had a big edge at the line, attempting 16 more (21-5) and making eight more (11-3). The Falcons also had the edge on the boards, 36-29, and finished with a 9-2 advantage in second-chance points.
Bentley's next game is at Southern Connecticut State on Saturday (3:30 pm).
At Waltham, Mass. (Dana Center)
BENTLEY 61, NEW HAVEN 56
NEW HAVEN (3-8, 2-6 NE-10) -- Justin Exum 9-20 1-1 23; Robert Jamerson 7-13 0-0 14; Mike Stys 3-5 0-0 8; Sean Harris 3-5 1-2 8; Jeffrey Adkins, Jr. 1-1 0-0 2; Jeremy Williams 0-4 1-2 1; Shawn Ustunel 0-1 0-0 0; Ashanti DePass 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 23-53 3-5 56.
BENTLEY (10-2, 8-0 NE-10) -- Brian Tracey 7-11 2-5 20; Jasper Grassa 4-8 3-3 14; Tom Dowling 2-8 5-6 9; Mike Quinn 3-6 0-2 8; Joe Fremeau 2-4 0-3 4; Sam Leclerc 1-6 0-0 3; Dan O'Keefe 1-3 1-2 3; Kevin Kettl 0-0 0-0 0; Mike Topercer 0-1 0-0 0; Greg Jacques 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-49 11-21 61.
Halftime: B 32-26; 3-point goals--NH 7-22 (Exum 4-9; Stys 2-4; Harris 1-2; Williams 0-4; DePass 0-3), B 10-29 (Tracey 4-6; Grassa 3-7; Quinn 2-4; Leclerc 1-6; Topercer 0-1; Jacques 0-1; Fremeau 0-1; Dowling 0-3). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--NH 29 (Jamerson 9), B 36 (Leclerc 9). Assists--NH 9 (Adkins, Jr. 3), B (Quinn 5). Total fouls--NH 19, B 12. Technical fouls--None.