COLCHESTER, Vt. – St. Michael's College turned the game around with a 31-7 explosion of the final 8:20 of the first half and went on to post a 95-87 victory over Bentley University in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Ross Sports Center.
The Purple Knight attack was powered by senior guard Michael Holton, Jr. (Portland, Ore.), who poured in 24 of his 36 points in the first half, including 15 during that 31-7 blast.
Senior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/South Portland HS) led Bentley with 26 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and both sophomore guard Ferguson Duke (Dartmouth, N.S./ Hun School (N.J.)) and junior forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) followed with 17 apiece.
The big finish to the first half by St. Michael's came after the Falcons used a 20-3 burst to open the first of their two 16-point leads of the night, 31-15 after ten-and-a-half minutes of play. That run included six points from Hyland and two of Duke's five first-half three-pointers. During that stretch, St. Michael's went about five-and-a-half minutes without a field goal, missing ten straight shots from the field.
After Holton and Duke exchanged threes, Bentley went the final 8:20 of the half with only two baskets in 13 attempts, a span in which the Falcons also committed four of their nine turnovers.
Senior guard Dom Ditlefsen (Portland, Ore.) got it going for St. Michael's (4-2, 3-1 NE-10) with a three from the left wing, and the Purple Knights briefly gain the lead on a Holton fast-break lay-up with 3:37 left in the half. Bentley regained the lead twice, the second time on a Duke triple with 2:25 that made it 41-39.
St. Michael's closed the opening 20 minutes with ten straight points, the last three on a Holton trey just before the horn, and went into the break riding a 49-41 lead.
After the Purple Knights extended their lead to 14, Bentley used runs of 7-0 and 6-0 to close to within six, 77-71 with 4:22 left. McFarland and senior guard JP Koury (Red Bank, N.J./CBA) contributed baskets during both of those spurts.
Koury had a chance to further reduce the gap, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 4:13 to play. St. Michael's responded with a 9-3 run, stretching the lead back to a dozen with 1:39 left. Bentley had one more charge, with a Hyland three making it a seven-point spread with 40 seconds on the clock, but that would be it for the comeback bid.
Hyland, who cracked double figures in both halves (11 in the first, 15 in the second), hit 10 of 23 shots with four three-pointers. Duke knocked down five of nine triples and had three assists in 32 turnover-free minutes, and McFarland recovered from a two-point first-half to put up 15 in the second.
Holton, who roughly tripled his season norm, knocked down eight of 13 three-pointers and shot 13 of 23 overall. Senior guard Corey Crawford II (Dover, Del.) put up a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double, and sophomore forward Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md.) also had a double-double for St. Michael's, finishing with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
The two teams combined for 26 three-pointers but it was St. Michael's that was more effective from downtown. The Knights buried 12 of 22 while Bentley needed 38 attempts to make 14. Overall shooting favored the home team, 48-42 percent, and the Falcons were outrebounded by 15, 49-34.
Bentley (3-5, 1-4 NE-10) will also be on the road Tuesday, a 7 pm game at Molloy College.