WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior forward Tyler McFarland (Rockport, Maine/Camden Hills HS) put up 20 points, ten rebounds and four blocks, and senior guard Keegan Hyland (South Portland, Maine/ South Portland HS) also had a double-double, as Bentley University won its sixth straight, 79-72 over Saint Anselm College in Northeast-10 Conference men's basketball Saturday afternoon at the Dana Center.
Bentley used a dozen more rebounds, 17 more free throws and 64 percent second-half shooting to improve to 9-5 overall and even its conference record at 4-4. The Falcons gained ground on three of the four teams ahead of them in the NE-10's Northeast Division standings, including Saint Anselm, which has now lost consecutive regular season games for the first time since February 2012.
Bentley, which is tied with American International for the longest active win streak in the NCAA Division II East Region, maintained the lead for the final 36:49 of the contest, but for almost all that time, the differential stood in single figures. The Falcons held a 10-point lead three times in the first half and the only double-digit lead after intermission, 78-68, came with 33.4 seconds to play.
The Falcons used a pair of early 10-3 runs to jump out to a 22-12 lead midway through the opening half. It was a balanced effort for Bentley early on with seven different players scoring in the first ten minutes and no one having more than four. The defense was key as the Hawks misfired on 12 of their first 13 shots and made only four of their first 19.
Saint Anselm pulled to within three at the break, 33-30, after outscoring the home team 14-7 over the final nine minutes. Senior forward Chris Santo (Cherry Hill, N.J.) was instrumental in the Hawk comeback, scoring 10 of the 14, and Bentley made only one of its final 14 shots of the opening half.
After the Hawks reduced the Bentley lead down to two with 3:47 left, the Falcons ran off seven unanswered to make it a 68-59 game with 2:37 to play. Hyland got it started with a driving lay-up, McFarland buried just the Falcons' second three-pointer of the afternoon and the All-Conference forward followed with a base-line jumper.
Bentley locked up the win by making eight of ten free throws in the final 85 seconds, including five of six by junior guard Alex Furness (Wells, Maine/Wells HS).
McFarland achieved his fifth 20-point game of the year by hitting eight of 13 shots overall and three of four from the line. Furness followed with a season-high 17, including a 9-for-10 effort from the line, and Hyland's afternoon included 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Bentley also received 10 points, including 8-of-8 free throws, off the bench from sophomore guard Ferguson Duke (Dartmouth, N.S./Hun School (N.J.)).
Santo powered Saint Anselm with 19 points and eight rebounds, and Saint Anselm (8-3, 5-2 NE-10) also received 13 points from senior guard Roy Mabrey (Belmar, N.J.). He kept his team relatively close early with three triples in the first eight-and-a-half minutes.
Bentley finished with the advantage in field goal percentage (.448-.411), free throws made (25-8), free throw attempts (30-10) and rebounds (45-33). Turnovers went in Saint Anselm's favor, 12-7, and the Hawks had four of the game's six three-pointers.
Bentley will have a week off before playing at 10-3 Southern Connecticut State next Saturday.