MANCHESTER, N.H. – Junior guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn, Mass./Lynn Classical HS) and freshman forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) combined for 38 points for Bentley University, but Southern New Hampshire University used a dominance at the foul line to hold off the visiting Falcons, 70-60, in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball at the SNHU Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon.
Grassa knocked down four three-pointers en route to a season-best 21 points, and McFarland finished with 17 points (tying his career-best he set earlier in the week) and ten rebounds, with the double-double his third of the year.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Falcons, who slipped to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference. Southern New Hampshire, which had two fewer field goals and the same number of threes as Bentley, improved to 4-2 overall while moving even with the Falcons in the NE-10 standings.
Bentley, whose only lead was at 4-2, spent the entire second half trying to catch up after falling behind early. After falling behind for the only time, the Penmen responded with eight unanswered, with the run beginning with a steal and lay-up by junior guard Mike Stys (Hooksett, N.H.). He also connected from downtown during that stretch as the Falcons went scoreless for nearly four minutes.
The first-half differential peaked at eight points twice, first at 24-16, and again at 30-22, after the Penmen scored the final six points before intermission after the Falcons had closed to within two. Bentley gave the ball away a dozen times during the opening 20 minutes, and that was costly to the Falcons, resulting in a 14-2 advantage in points off turnovers for SNHU.
In the second half, Bentley kept climbing back, only to see SNHU answer with mini-bursts of its own. An early Bentley run of 6-0, which included a pair of McFarland put-backs, was followed by a 5-0 Penmen spurt that made it 37-28 with 15:30 left.
A short McFarland jumper with 10:58 left brought Bentley to within two, 41-39, but again, the Penmen answered, scoring the next five points.
Another basket by McFarland finished a Grassa-fueled 10-2 run and again cut the deficit to two, 55-53 with 4:42 left. Southern New Hampshire outscored the Falcons 13-5 over the next four-plus minutes to create a commanding 10-point bulge, 68-58, with 38 seconds remaining. Nine of the 13 points came from the foul stripe.
Entering the game, Southern New Hampshire had been outscored at the line by nearly ten a game and had made only 31 free throws all season, in five contests. Those numbers improved significantly for coach Stan Spirou's squad as they finished 21 of 26 from the stripe and allowed Bentley to attempt only 11. The Falcons made a season-low seven.
Other than McFarland and Grassa, freshman forward Joe Glynn (Abington, Mass./Cardinal Spellman HS) was the only Falcon to score more than five has he complemented his career-high eight rebounds with six points.
Stys led a balanced attack for Southern New Hampshire with his 15 points including 8-of-8 from the foul line. Freshman forward Rodney Sanders (Linden, N.J.) filled the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists, and the Penmen received 25 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.
Bentley had a slight advantage in both field goal percentage (38-36 percent) and rebound s (42-41), but SNHU had eight more second-chance points (14-6), seven more points off turns (20-13) and all ten fast break points in the game.
Bentley will return home to host nationally-ranked and defending Northeast-10 champion Franklin Pierce on Tuesday.