WALTHAM, Mass. -- Senior forward Brian Tracey (Bow Mar, Colo./Heritage HS) recorded his seventh career postseason double-double, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and senior guard Tom Dowling (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side HS) scored all of his 14 points during the Falcons' second-half comeback, as Bentley University advanced to the championship game of the Northeast-10 Conference playoffs with a 68-60 semifinal win over The College of Saint Rose Thursday night at the Dana Center.
Bentley, the tournament's top seed and the 22nd-ranked team in Division II, will host number seven Adelphi University Saturday at 1 pm in search of its third NE-10 tourney title in five years. The Falcons, who overcame a ten-point second-half deficit, ran its winning streak to six and improved to 22-6 on the year. Saint Rose saw its streak halted at eight games, dropping to 21-8.
Bentley, which trailed by nine in the second half of its quarterfinal win over St. Michael's, found itself on the short end of a 41-31 score after the Golden Knights opened the second half by hitting their first four shots. Sophomore guard Andre Pope (White Plains, N.Y.) capped that 10-2 spurt with a three-pointer and a three-point play on a driving lay-up.
The Falcons turned things around following a Jay Lawson timeout that came in between Pope's lay-up and the ensuing free throw.
Dowling, scoreless up to that point, buried a deep three-pointer late in the shot clock to get things going, and continued the run by making two free throws about a minute later. After a dunk from Saint Rose junior forward Brian Hanuschak (Cumberland, R.I.), graduate guard Mike Quinn (Oakdale, Conn./Montville HS) knocked down a three from out front, freshman Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) did the same from the left wing, and Quinn sank the first of two free throws.
That 12-2 spurt, over a span of 4:25, evened the game at 43 apiece with about 13 minutes left. During that time, the Golden Knights misfired on nine of ten shots from the field.
A three-ball from the left wing by Tracey with 8:48 left gave Bentley its first lead since 22-20. After a Saint Rose basket, Dowling sank a three from the right wing, putting the Falcons in front for good at 52-50, 7:35 still to play.
Junior guard Sam Leclerc (Fayette, Maine/Winthrop HS) hit from downtown with 5:55 remaining, the trey making it a two-possession game at 58-54. Saint Rose matched those three points with a free throw from junior guard Rob Gutierrez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and a driving lay-up from junior guard Shea Bromirski (Cambridge, N.Y.) making it a one-point game, 58-57, with 2:30 left.
Those would be the Golden Knights' final points until the game clock dipped under 10 seconds, and by then, the Falcons had run off 10 unanswered while also coming up with several big defensive plays.
Dowling connected from the left wing for Bentley's 13th three-ball of the night, and senior forward Joe Fremeau (Manchester, N.H./Central HS) scored inside with 1:14 left for a six-point lead, 63-57. In the final minute, the Falcons pulled away with Dowling hitting three of four from the line and Fremeau sinking a pair.
That game-clinching spurt included Fremeau taking a charge and Dowling coming up with a steal.
Bentley started great, hitting five threes in the first seven minutes to open a 19-8 lead. Frustrated by the Saint Rose zone, the Falcons managed only four more field goals the rest of the half and went into the break down a pair at 31-29 after hitting just 29 percent of their shots.
The three 1,000-point scorers on the Bentley roster were the team's three double-figure scorers in the win. Tracey, the only Falcon to make at least half his shots, finished six of 12 from the floor with two triples and four assists. The 17 points boosted his career total to 1,477, moving him past Mark Argust '01 into 13th on the program's all-time list.
Dowling's night also included four rebounds and two steals, and Quinn registered 10 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals. Grassa scored nine off the bench, all from three-point land, and Fremeau had a solid effort with eight points, seven rebounds (five coming at the offensive end) and three assists.
Pope and Bromirski did the bulk of the scoring for Saint Rose, finishing with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Pope drained four from outside the arc and Bromirski hit three triples.
It was the seventh time this season that Bentley has earned a W despite shooting under 37 percent. The Falcons finished at .345 and were 13 of 39 from three. Saint Rose shot 41 percent overall and 44 percent from three, but Bentley connected five more times from deep and finished with a 15-8 edge in free throws made.
Bentley took better care of the ball, with only 10 turns to the Knights' 15, and lost it only twice after the break. Amazingly, every one of the Falcons' 20 field goals was assisted, with five different players having either three or four.
The Falcons, who will be making their eighth appearance in the NE-10 final, posted a 64-54 win at Adelphi in mid-January in the only regular season meeting between the two. The Panthers advanced to the NE-10 title game for the second time in their two NE-10 seasons with a 71-60 win at UMass-Lowell.
At Waltham, Mass. (Dana Center)
BENTLEY 68, SAINT ROSE 60
SAINT ROSE (21-8) -- Andre Pope 6-15 1-1 17; Shea Bromirski 5-11 2-2 15; Rob Gutierrez 3-8 3-5 9; Brian Hanuschak 3-7 0-0 6; Kareem Thomas 1-2 2-2 5; Sheldon Griffin 2-4 0-1 4; Devin Grimes 2-2 0-0 4; Dominykas Milka 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 22-54 8-11 60.
BENTLEY (22-6) -- Brian Tracey 6-12 3-4 17; Tom Dowling 3-9 5-6 14; Mike Quinn 3-10 1-2 10; Jasper Grassa 3-8 0-0 9; Joe Fremeau 2-5 4-4 8; Sam Leclerc 2-8 0-0 6; Dan O'Keefe 1-6 2-2 4; Greg Jacques 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-58 15-18 68.
Halftime: SR 31-29; 3-point goals--SR 8-18 (Pope 4-10; Bromirski 3-5; Thomas 1-2; Gutierrez 0-1), B 13-39 (Quinn 3-9; Grassa 3-8; Dowling 3-8; Leclerc 2-8; Tracey 2-5; O'Keefe 0-1). Fouled out--Gutierrez. Rebounds--SR 37 (Hanuschak 11), B 37 (Tracey 10). Assists--SR 12 (Bromirski 4), B 20 (Quinn, Grassa, Tracey 4). Total fouls--SR 17, B 12. Technical fouls--None.