WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore guard Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Wells HS) drove into the lane and hit a 13-footer with 2.4 seconds left to give Bentley University a hard-fought 95-94 win over Merrimack College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Tuesday evening at the Dana Center.
Furness' game-winner came just 7.4 seconds after Warrior sophomore guard Gelvis Solano (New York, N.Y.) buried his fifth three of the night to give the visitors their only lead of the final 31 minutes. Solano overcame foul trouble to score a game-high 31 points, including 25 after intermission.
All five Falcon starters scored in doubles as the Falcons won their second straight to improve to 16-7 overall and 10-7 in the conference. Sophomore forward Tyler Mcfarland (Rockport, Maine/ Camden Hills HS) led Bentley with 23 points, with all but four coming in the second half, and senior guard Jasper Grassa (Lynn/Lynn Classical HS) put up a double-double with 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Furness followed with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and also had six assists and five boards.
Bentley, which led by as many as 14 early in the second half, used back-to-back baskets by junior forward Andrew Shaw (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) and Furness to make it an eight-point lead, 89-81 with 3:28 to play.
The Warriors, who had lost 10 of their last 12, came storming back, scoring eight straight, a run capped by a Solano three from the left corner, to get within one with 1:46 left. Bentley answered with a three-ball from the opposite left corner by junior guard JP Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA) with 1:24 left. Solano came right back, knocking down another triple, this one from the right wing to again make it a one-point game, this time with 1:11 to play.
On Bentley's next possession, junior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS) rebounded Koury's miss and was fouled on the play. He made the first of two and missed the second with the rebound going to Merrimack sophomore Anthony Barry (Uxbridge). He got the ball to Solano, with the go-ahead trey his team's tenth of the second half.
After the Furness basket with 2.4 seconds and a pair of timeouts, Merrimack inbounded to halfcourt before Hyland picked off a pass for a game-ending steal.
Both teams lit up the scoreboard in the second half, combining for 110 points with Merrimack shooting 62 percent overall and 59 percent from three. Bentley nearly matched those numbers, hitting at a 56 percent clip with four three-pointers in six attempts.
McFarland finished 10-of-10 at the foul line and his 19-point second half included six baskets in seven attempts. Five of his seven rebounds came at the offensive end, helping the Falcons to a 16-2 advantage in second-chance points, and he also had three assists.
Grassa connected four times from downtown, hitting half of his shots from beyond the arc, and Bentley also received 12 points from Shaw (who also had seven rebounds) and ten from Koury. Hyland and sophomore forward Shaq Phelps (Linden, N.J./Linden HS) each added seven points, with Hyland also providing six rebounds.
In addition to the 31 from Solano, Merrimack (8-14, 6-11 NE-10) received 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting from JT Strickland (Laurel, Md.) and 16 points, with four three-pointers, from Troy Hammel (Valencia, Calif.). Like Solano, they are also sophomore guards.
Merrimack shot slightly better overall, .535 to .524, and had one more three-pointer, 12-11. Bentley was more efficient in accuracy from downtown, needing only 19 shots to make 11 while the Warriors launched it 25 times, and tripled the visitors at the line, 18-6.
Bentley dominated the boards, 45-22 overall and 15-3 offensive, but turnovers were another story with the Falcons' 17 ten more than the Warriors had. That resulted in an 18-9 edge in points off for Merrimack.
Bentley will be on the road for its next two, beginning with a Saturday matinee at St. Michael's College.