WALTHAM, Mass. – Freshman forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) scored a career-best 22 points, including the first four of a game-ending 8-0 run, and grabbed nine rebounds as Bentley University finished strong for a 73-66 win over Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Bentley, in its final game before a three-week exam and holiday break, snapped a two-game slide and improved to 5-4 overall, including 3-3 in the Northeast-10. Stonehill, which had been ranked 23rd in Division II just a couple weeks ago, slipped to 3-4 overall and 2-4 NE-10 with its fourth loss in its last five games.
A back-and-forth second half found the Falcons on the short end of a 66-65 score with 2:30 lead to play after Stonehill ran off six in a row to erase a five-point Bentley lead. A three-point play by senior forward Raheem May-Thompson (London, England) brought the Skyhawks within two with 3:03 to play, and about 30 seconds later, senior Adam Fazzini (Drums, Pa.) connected on a three from the right wing to give Stonehill what would be its final lead.
It stayed that way for more than a minute until Bentley junior guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) delivered the ball to an open McFarland, with his lay-up putting the Falcons up 67-66 with 1:05 left.
Stonehill got off four shots in the final 40 seconds and three of the misses were corralled by Bentley, forcing the Skyhawks to foul and send the Falcons to the line. Those were two keys to the Falcon victory, a dominance on the boards (42-27) and at the line (18 of 21 as compared to Stonehill's 5 of 7).
Following each of its three rebounds down the stretch, Bentley was perfect at the line with McFarland, Grassa and junior guard DJ Guillette (Lunenburg/Lunenburg HS) all making two of two to lock up the outcome.
After trailing by as many as seven early, Bentley ran off 11 straight, including five by Grassa, to take a 21-17 lead with 8:47 left in the first half. Stonehill came back to tie at 29-all, but baskets by freshman guard Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Wells HS) and McFarland helped the Falcons go into the halftime break up a pair, 33-31.
` Bentley scored the first five points of the second to go up seven, but Stonehill came right back and had a one-point lead with 12:47 to play, 43-42. The Falcons answered the Skyhawks' 12-4 surge with a 13-4 burst of their own, making it an eight-point advantage with eight to play. Sophomore forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy), who had his best shooting game thus far this season, had five of the 13 and the final two were scored by Guillette following a nice play by Furness to save a missed shot that was headed out of bounds.
Down eight with about six minutes left, Stonehill ran off eight straight, tying the game at 60 on a Fazzini triple with 4:41 left. A three-point play by Shaw and two Grassa free throws put the Falcons back in front, but the Skyhawks weren't quite done, scoring the next six to go up 66-65 with 2:30 left.
McFarland made nine of 13 shots, including his first career three-pointer, en route to the first 20+ game of his career. Shaw came off the bench to knock down four of six three-balls en route to a season-best 17 points, and Grassa provided 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
May-Thompson and Fazzini led the offense for Stonehill, with 21 and 14 points, respectively. They were a combined 15 of 28 while their teammates connected on only 11 of 38.
Bentley shot better overall, 45-39 percent, but the Skyhawks outscored the Falcons from the field by eight points as they attempted 13 more shots. Turnovers were a problem for the Falcons with Stonehill scoring 20 points off 19 Bentley giveaways. In contrast, Stonehill only lost the ball nine times all afternoon.
Bentley returns to the court Dec. 30 for a home non-conference meeting with Concordia College.