WALTHAM, Mass. -- Senior guard Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side HS) knocked down four first-half three-pointers en route to 20 points and three of his teammates connected three times apiece from downtown as the Bentley University men's basketball team shot down UMass-Lowell, 81-61, Wednesday night at the Dana Center to move a step closer towards a sixth Northeast-10 Conference regular season championship in seven years.
The victory boosted the number one team in the NCAA Division II East Region to 18-6 overall and 16-4 in the NE-10, keeping coach Jay Lawson's club one game in front of both Stonehill College and American International College in the conference standings with two to play. UMass-Lowell, which had won six of its previous seven dropped to 16-8 overall and 12-8 in the conference.
This one was a tale of two halves. The first was a back-and-forth affair with 13 lead changes, 12 of which came in the final ten minutes, while the second was all Bentley. Following the break, the Falcons outshot the River Hawks 57-30 percent and outscored them 44-27.
Both teams found success in different ways in a first half that saw Bentley scored 12 straight early to claim a 12-2 lead and the River Hawks respond with 11 in a row to go up 17-15. From that juncture on, each team took turns scoring with a lay-up by junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/ Winthrop HS) off an inbound play just before the buzzer resulting in a 37-34 Falcon lead.
Bentley knocked down eight triples in the half and capitalized on the offensive boards for a 14-4 advantage in second chance points. Meanwhile, UMass-Lowell went inside, outscoring the Falcons 16-6 in the paint, and had an 8-0 edge in fastbreak points.
In the second, the Falcons continued their hot shooting from three, hitting four during an early 1break points.
In the second, the Falcons continued their hot shooting from three, hitting four during an early 14-2 spurt that produced a 53-38 lead after five minutes of play. Grad student Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Montville HS) connected twice from downtown and both Leclerc and senior forward Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Heritage HS) also nailed a three-ball.
After the River Hawks got back within 11, Tracey scored six points during an 8-0 spurt that extended the lead to 19, 67-48 with seven and a half minutes left on the clock. The high point came with 3:34 left when two Leclerc free throws made it 74-52.
Bentley buried a season-best 14 three-pointers, connecting at a 57 percent clip from outside. Overall, the Falcons outshot Lowell 42-38 percent and enjoyed a huge advantage at the foul line. Seven different players reached the stripe with Bentley finishing 17 of 23, as compared to just 4 of 11 for the River Hawks.
Turnovers were about the same (one more for Lowell), but Bentley did a much better job taking advantage, finishing with a 23-9 bulge in points off.
Dowling, who scored at least 20 for the third straight game, was joined in doubles by four teammates. Tracey finished with 15 points, nine boards and five assists, and both Leclerc and freshman guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) netted 12 points. Quinn, who became the first player in the program's history to eclipse 4,000 career minutes, amassed 11 points (pushing his career total to 995), eight rebounds and four assists.
Bentley finishes the regular season away from home, playing at Franklin Pierce Saturday and at second-place Stonehill Wednesday.