WALTHAM, Mass. – Freshman forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) scored 29 points, the third time in the last 17 days he's set a new career-high, and collected a career-best 14 rebounds as Bentley University made it a season-ending four-game winning streak with an 81-70 victory over UMass-Lowell in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Tuesday night at the Dana Center.
McFarland, who was coming off a 28-point effort in Saturday's win at Stonehill, became the first freshman to lead Bentley in scoring since Al Grenfell 42 years ago. His 15.5 scoring average was the best by a Falcon freshman in 47 years, since Mike Driscoll's 16.0 in 1965-66.
Bentley held the lead most of the game, but trailed by two, 59-57, with 12:39 left after the River Hawks ran off five straight, a jumper from junior forward Antonio Bivins (Miami, Fla.) and a three-pointers from grad student Greg DeSantis (Trumbill, Conn.).
Ten of McFarland's points came during an ensuing 15-2 run that produced Bentley's first double-figure lead of the game, 72-61 with 6:48 left. A reverse lay-up from sophomore Jate Cheshul (Galloway, N.J./Holy Spirit HS) got things started and McFarland broke a 59-all tie with a pair of free throws.
After McFarland and Lowell sophomore guard Chad Holley (New York, N.Y.) traded lay-ups, Bentley freshmen buried three consecutive three-balls from the right wing. Guard Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Wells HS) hit the first and McFarland the next two to make it an 11-point game.
DeSantis connected from downtown with 3:50 left to bring his team within six at 74-68. It stayed that way for two minutes, until McFarland's fifth triple of the night launched a game-clinching 7-0 run with 1:48 to play.
Three-pointers from senior guard Mike Topercer (Scottsdale, Ariz./New Hampton Prep) and McFarland made it a 13-8 game with 14:47 left, giving Bentley a lead it would maintain most of the rest of the way. The first-half lead peaked at nine (33-24) on a McFarland put-back with 6:25 left until the break and the score after a foul-filled opening half was 45-41 Falcons.
McFarland finished 11 of 20 from the field, including a five-for-eight effort from beyond the arc. Five of his rebounds came at the offensive end and he also recorded two assists and a block.
Junior guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) was the only other Falcon to score in doubles as he finished with 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. Topercer, in his final career game, amassed nine points, eight rebounds and five assists, and Bentley also received nine points from sophomore guard J.P. Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA), who etched his name into the school record book.
Koury was four-for-four at the line, extending his streak of consecutive made free throws to 29, bettering the school record of 28 set by Tom Quinlan 19 years ago.
Holley was the top scorer for UMass-Lowell with 18 points, and the River Hawks received 13 points apiece from junior guard Akeem Williams (Brockton) and Bivins. Williams, the NE-10's top scorer, was held to seven below his season norm on 4-of-11 shooting. The loss, Lowell's seventh in eight February games, dropped the River Hawks to 14-12 overall and 10-12 NE-10.
Bentley had a slight edge in field goal percentage, 41-40, and had a bigger advantage in three-pointers (12-7), free throws (17-13) and rebounds (44-34). Thirteen of the rebounds came at the offensive end, helping the Falcons to a 13-5 advantage in second-chance points.
Bentley finished its 50th season of basketball at 11-15 overall and 9-13 NE-10.