NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Down by as many as 18 in the second half and by 15 with under six minutes to play, the Bentley University Falcons staged a furious comeback Saturday afternoon at Southern Connecticut State, using a 17-2 explosion to even the game with 33.8 seconds remaining.
However, Southern junior Greg Langston (Stratford, Conn.) scored the final two of his game-high 28 with 2.1 seconds left, giving his team an 83-81 Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball victory and handing the Falcons their third loss in eight days, all by a total of five points.
Down 79-64 after a Langston basket with 5:48 to play, Bentley ran off 11 unanswered to close within four with 2:27 left. Freshman forward Shakir Phelps (Linden, N.J./Linden HS), who finished with a career-high 16 off the bench, got things started, driving baseline for a basket and a free throw opportunity with 5:33 remaining. He couldn't complete the three-point opportunity, but a half-minute late, he dropped in one of two from the line.
The run continued with a fast break lay-up by sophomore guard J.P. Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA), a put-back from freshman guard Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Wells HS), two free throws from junior guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn, Mass./Lynn Classical HS) and an uncontested lay-up from Koury.
After Southern scored to interrupt the run and make it 81-75 with 2:16 left, Bentley resumed with a lay-up from freshman forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) with 1:30 on the clock. Following a shot-clock violation forced by the Falcons, McFarland sank a pair from the line and the difference was two.
Phelps quickly intercepted the inbound pass and laid it in, knotting the score at 81 with 33 and eight-tenths seconds showing.
Southern ran the clock down and Langston, red-hot in the second half with 20 points, hit a scoop shot in the lane to return the lead to the Owls with 2.1 seconds left. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw. The ball bounced on the floor, and Langston came up with it as time expired.
This was a close one for the first 24:30, with 12 lead changes and ten ties before Southern opened things up with a 20-2 blast over the next six minutes. Langston had seven of the 20 and senior forward Trevor Hamlet (Brooklyn, N.Y.) chipped in with five. The two teams traded baskets over the next four minutes before Bentley embarked on its late surge.
Phelps was one of four Falcons to score in doubles with McFarland topping the list with 18, including eight of nine from the line. Phelps was five of seven from both the field and the line, and Grassa drained three triples en route to 14 points. Koury notched his first double-double of his career, 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
Langston, who needed 22 shots and five free throws for his 28 points, was followed in the scoring column by Hamlet. He connected five times from downtown and finished with 23 points and two blocks.
Both teams shot about the same (Bentley .509, SC .508), but the Owls had more success from three-point land (9-19 as compared to 6-16) and fewer turnovers (11-14), resulting in six more shot attempts. The Falcons had the edge at the line, making 19 of 25 while SCSU was 12 of 20, and also had the rebounding edge, 36-30.
Southern, which defeated the Bentley for the first time in 20 years, remained in a tie for fourth in the NE-10, improving to 13-6 overall and 10-5 conference. The Falcons, who lost to New Haven by two last Saturday and one to Le Moyne Tuesday, dipped to 7-12 overall and 5-10 NE-10.
Bentley will look to get back on track Wednesday when it visits Merrimack for a 7:30 game.